At the end of this week NATO announced a bombshell that's gone largely underreported given the Ukraine transcript brouhaha and Democrats' push for impeachment. NATO officials said they've formally rejected a Russian request to prohibit placing missiles previously banned under the now defunct Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in Europe.
"NATO declined the proposal Thursday, because it says Russia still possesses missiles — for the SSC-8 system — that were banned under the INF pact," United Press International (UPI) reports.
The Russian request was made directly by President Putin, who has expressed fears of "a new arms race" following both Moscow and Washington pulling out of the landmark 1988 INF treaty; however, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungesu told the Financial Times:
"Unless and until Russia verifiably destroys the SSC-8 system, this moratorium on deployments is not a real offer."
The SSC-8 is a ground-launched cruise missile labeled by the US a “
Oana Lungescu, Nato spokesperson, confirmed receipt of a letter from Russian authorities pitching the moratorium idea but said the western allies had “heard this proposal before” and saw it as “not a credible offer”. — FT
In June NATO issued Russia a 5-week deadline to destroy the SSC-8s, and any other treaty-violating missiles; however, Putin responded with more missile tests, citing similar Pentagon tests this summer.
While there's been no indicators that the US or NATO is moving forward with placing previously banned missiles in Europe, the fact that such a simple Russian request has been so publicly spurned is a deeply worrisome sign of a potential new arms race to come.