Russia’s Missile Violation Requires Leadership from President Trump


Russia’s reported violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty raises serious concerns, and should be condemned in the strongest terms, but the Trump Administration must respond in an intelligent and measured manner to address any violation while avoiding further escalation and destabilization.


Hazel Correa
202.546.0795 x2115

Washington, D.C. – According to the New York Times, Russia has covertly developed, tested, and deployed a new ground-launched cruise missile in violation of a crucial arms control agreement between the United States and Russia. The missile, classified by the U.S. as SSC-8, reportedly violates the restrictions of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which bans all ground-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and their launchers, with ranges of 500-5,500 kilometers.

The INF Treaty is critical for global security, including strategic stability between the United States, its European allies, and Russia.

In response, Former Congressman John Tierney, the Executive Director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, commented,

“If true, Russia’s deployment of an illegal ground-launched cruise missile represents a very troubling development and should be roundly condemned. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is critical for strategic stability on the European continent, and Russia must come back into compliance with the agreement to avoid upending that stability.”
“There will undoubtedly be calls for the Trump Administration, and perhaps the President’s own inclination, to react to the reported violation with bombast or extreme rhetoric and actions. That would serve no useful purpose other than to further destabilize an already tense situation.”

Dr. Jim Walsh, a Senior Research Associate with MIT’s Security Studies Program and a Center contributor, added,

“This may be a delicate, even fearful, moment in the decades long history of arms control. Russian compliance with its treaty obligations is critical, and nothing less can be accepted. But there are those who would happily tear down the entire system of nuclear restraint painstakingly built by past presidents, both Republicans and Democrats. A “let it burn” approach to arms control treaties would make the world a more dangerous place for the U.S. and its partners. Instead, this is a time for sober, prudent policymaking that preserves American options.”

Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., an arms control expert on the Center’s National Advisory Board who was involved with numerous arms control agreements over three decades said,

“This is not a new issue, nor an immediate threat. It was first raised by the United States in 2014, but this is an important issue concerning an important treaty and needs to be resolved soon.”

John Tierney added,

“We are clearly paying a price for the Trump Administration’s disarray to date. This challenge comes at a time when the administration is not fully staffed in relevant areas. The President and the American people will be well served if he masters his proclivity to brash action, gathers knowledgeable and responsible experts around him, and moves with resolve and reason.”

“This situation could be used as a catalyst for broader negotiation on a range of issues as well as a return to compliance with the INF Treaty.”

Congressman John F. Tierney, Dr. Jim Walsh and Amb. Thomas Graham Jr. are available for further comment and broadcast bookings by contacting Hazel Correa at 202.546.0795 X 2115 or 

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a national non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to enhancing peace and security through expert policy analysis and thought-provoking research. Since 1980, the Center’s expertise on reducing the threats of war and nuclear weapons has been sought by the media and policymakers – supported by the tax-deductible contributions of foundations and individuals.