With the prospects for future cooperation on arms control hanging in the balance, the Obama administration is sending a team of senior officials to Moscow this week to try to resolve American allegations that Russia has violated a landmark nuclear accord.
At the heart of the dispute is the United States allegation that Russia has tested a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Soviet-American treaty banning intermediate-range missiles based on land. Russia began testing the cruise missile as early as 2008, according to American officials. The Obama administration first raised its concerns with the Russians in May 2013 and formally alleged that the test was a violation in July.
The American delegation, led by Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, is set to meet with Russian officials on Thursday, and includes experts from the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the Energy Department.
The talks would be difficult under the best of circumstances. But they will occur at a time of sharp tensions over Ukraine and broad differences over the future of arms control.
Western experts say that nuclear weapons have assumed a larger place in Russia’s military doctrine to compensate for weaknesses in its conventional forces. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia reinforced that impression last month when he highlighted Russia’s nuclear prowess in comments that appeared intended to dissuade the West from providing significant military support to Ukraine.