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U.S., NATO consider preemptive action against Russian cruise missile program

October 2, 2018

The United States and its NATO allies are threatening preemptive action against Russia’s ongoing effort to build a new cruise missile, an effort Washington and its Western European partners say is in violation of standing treaties between Moscow and the alliance.

Alliance officials say the nuclear-powered cruise missile under development would allow Moscow to launch a ballistic weapon on targets inside Western Europe at a moment’s notice. Building and fielding such a weapon is in clear violation of several Cold War-era treaties agreed to by Russia and the West, officials contend

Russian diplomats and top military brass have repeatedly refuted such claims. But U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson said Tuesday that if Moscow continues down the path toward the new cruise missile, alliance members will have no other option than to respond with military force.

“At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a [Russian] missile that could hit any of our countries,” she said during a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“Counter measures (by the United States) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty,” she said, adding Russian officials “are on notice”

The new, nuclear-powered cruise missile was one of several advanced weapons Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled during a March press conference, designed to showcase the former Soviet Union’s military prowess

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” the Russian leader said at the time.

“You have failed to contain Russia,” he added.

In May, Moscow claimed to have developed the first combat-ready hypersonic missile. The weapon’s speed and versatility has positioned hypersonic weapons technology viable alternative to nuclear weapons which is the only other weapon in the American arsenal that can travel as far as fast as a hypersonic weapon.

Russian military officials announced the first deployment of the Kinzhal or “Dagger” hypersonic missile aboard 10 MiG-31 fighter jets on “test combat duty,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said that month.

“It is a cutting-edge weapon, namely a hypersonic long-range missile capable of overcoming air and missile defenses. It is invincible, having serious combat might and potential,” Mr. Borisov said, confirming the weapon’s deployment.

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