Republicans: US needs to act on Russia missile treaty violations

Republicans said Thursday the Obama administration should take action over an apparent Russian violation of the treaty banning testing of medium-range missiles.

Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee issued a statement slamming the administration for ignoring the Russian treaty violation and not acting.

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“If the Administration wishfully waves away blatant infractions on current agreements, how are we supposed to trust future pacts?” Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and three GOP subcommittee chairs asked in a statement.

“Since 2012, Congress has pushed the Administration to take Russian cheating on nuclear treaties seriously,” the committee members said. “We have been ignored, as has Russia’s material breach of the central arms control treaty of the nuclear era. Treaties are meaningless unless both sides sign in good faith.”

The New York Times reported Thursday the United States informed its NATO allies this month that Russia had tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, in violation of the 1987 treaty signed by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Obama administration officials have pressed the Russians on the tests, according to the report. But the Russians said they investigated and considered the case closed, and the U.S. was not ready to formally declare the missile tests had violated the treaty.

Administration officials briefed members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday on "treaty compliance issues."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking member on the panel, said Republicans have long raised concerns about Russian violations of the treaty.

"There's been frustration in Congress for the last couple of years with regard to this issue — not the last couple of weeks," Corker told The Hill.

"There is a concern that maybe we should be slightly more straightforward on the matter than we've been."

Former Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.), a longtime GOP leader on missile defense, said in 2009 that Russian violations of the missile test treaty were one reason he opposed the New START agreement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the treaty violations were another way Putin was testing the U.S. and the boundaries of the treaty.

“This is just another example of where Putin is sowing his oats, and nobody really takes us seriously anymore,” Graham said. “All the regimes that are the problem are getting stronger and all the people who’d be our friends are getting weaker.”