Pentagon Planning Military Counter to Russia’s Treaty-Prohibited Cruise Missiles

Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Brian P. McKeonRussian violation of an arms control agreement poses a threat to U.S. and its allies’ security interests, leading the Joint Staff to conduct a military assessment of its threat, a senior defense official said here today.

Brian P. McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, testified alongside Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for international security, in a joint hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade regarding Russian noncompliance with the Intermediate Nuclear-Range Forces treaty.

In the course of “closely” monitoring compliance of arms control treaties, McKeon said, it was determined that Russia was in violation of the INF treaty. . . .

“As a result of Russia’s actions,” McKeon said, “the Joint Staff has conducted a military assessment of the threat were Russia to deploy an INF treaty-range ground-launch cruise missile in Europe or the Asia-Pacific region.

“This assessment has led us to review a broad range of military response options,” he said, “and to consider the effect each option could have on convincing Russian leadership to return to compliance with the INF treaty, as well as countering the capability of a Russian INF treaty-prohibited system.”

McKeon emphasized that the department doesn’t want to engage in an “escalatory cycle” of action and reaction.”

However, Russia’s lack of meaningful engagement on this issue — if it persists — will ultimately require the United States to take actions to protect its interests and security along with those of its allies and partners,” he added. “Those actions will make Russia less secure.”

Treaty Importance, Steps Taken

“We believe the INF treaty contributes to not only U.S. and Russian security,” McKeon said, “but also to that of our allies and partners. For that reason, Russian possession, development or deployment of a weapons system in violation of the treaty will not be ignored. . . .”

“Such a violation threatens our security and the collective security of many allies and partners,” he added. “This violation will not go unanswered, because there is too much at stake”

Image: Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Brian P. McKeon (photo: Department of Defense)