Russia is moving tactical nuclear weapons systems into recently-annexed Crimea while the Obama administration is backing informal talks aimed at cutting U.S. tactical nuclear deployments in Europe.
Three senior House Republican leaders wrote to President Obama two weeks ago warning that Moscow will deploy nuclear missiles and bombers armed with long-range air launched cruise missiles into occupied Ukrainian territory.
“Locating nuclear weapons on the sovereign territory of another state without its permission is a devious and cynical action,” states the letter signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.) and two subcommittee chairmen.
“It further positions Russian nuclear weapons closer to the heart of NATO, and it allows Russia to gain a military benefit from its seizure of Crimea, allowing Russia to profit from its action.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months “has escalated his use of nuclear threats to a level not seen since the Cold War,” they wrote.
In a related development, the Obama administration is funding non-official arms control talks with Russia through a Washington think-tank that are aimed at curbing U.S. tactical nuclear arms in Europe.
The first round of talks was held in Vienna Monday and Tuesday.
Critics say Obama administration arms control officials at the State Department and Pentagon are using the informal nuclear talks as groundwork for future tactical nuclear arms cuts.
Such cuts are likely to be opposed by NATO allies, especially in Eastern Europe, worried by growing Russian military threats to the continent.
Regarding the nuclear deployments to Crimea, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R., Okla.) first disclosed last month that Putin had announced in August his approval of deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M short-range missiles along with Tu-22 nuclear-capable bombers in Crimea, located on the Black Sea.
“The stationing of new nuclear forces on the Crimean peninsula, Ukrainian territory Russia annexed in March, is both a new and menacing threat to the security of Europe and also a clear message from Putin that he intends to continue to violate the territorial integrity of his neighbors,” Inhofe stated in a Sept. 8 op-ed in Foreign Policy.
In their Sept. 23 letter to the president, McKeon, Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces, and Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, noted Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty by building a banned cruise missile. The missile has been identified by U.S. officials as the R-500.
The lawmakers said the Russian nuclear deployment in Crimea represents the “clear, and perhaps irrevocable tearing” of the 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia that allowed Russia to maintain a military presence within the alliance.
The Russian nuclear deployment plans and treaty violation should have been discussed during the recent NATO summit in Wales but were not, they said.
As a result, the congressmen urged the president to brief Congress on the threatening Russian nuclear deployments in Crimea. They also called on the president to suspend the NATO-Russia accord and demand the removal of all Russian military personnel from NATO facilities.
Additionally, they asked that the United States and its allies halt all arms control surveillance flights by Russia carried out under the Open Skies Treaty.
Significantly, the three House leaders called on the administration to begin research and development on deployment sites for new U.S. intermediate-range ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles, if Russian refuses to return to compliance with the INF accord. Read more here : http://freebeacon.com/national-security/russia-deploying-tactical-nuclear-arms-in-crimea/