What Is the I.N.F. Treaty and Why Does It Matter? – The New York Times

The Russians have said there is no violation. But American officials say Moscow is all but openly deploying a prohibited missile that the West calls the SSC-8, a land-based cruise missile that could be threatening to European nations.

Last month, Russian officials put a newly modified version of that missile on display for a foreign audience for the first time in an attempt to rebut the accusations that the weapon violates the treaty.

The display was intended to underscore Russia’s “increased transparency and our adherence to the I.N.F. Treaty,” said Lt. Gen. Mikhail Matveyevskiy, the chief of missiles and artillery for the Russian armed forces, and to show off new modifications.

Trump administration officials, who first signaled last year that they would withdraw the United States from the treaty, said the display was meaningless in allaying their concerns.

No, and it may be a greater concern to the Trump administration than Russia.

While the Chinese military is carving out a greater sphere of influence in the Western Pacific, the I.N.F. Treaty constrains the United States from placing short- and intermediate-range missiles on land near China as a deterrent.

For this and other reasons, Mr. Trump and his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, have called the I.N.F. Treaty outdated.

European leaders have been among the most vocal protesters of the treaty withdrawal. While they agree with the United States that Russia’s new intermediate range missiles threaten Europe, they say the answer is to renegotiate the accord, not scrap it.

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