Years of on-again, off-again complaining about Russia’s development of a new land-based cruise missile, dubbed the SSC-8, continued today with Gen. Paul Selva, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, angrily accusing it of posing a threat to NATO.
“The system itself presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat,” Selva told the House Armed Services Committee. This is presumably true, since the point of deploying missiles is as a threat to counter-balance threats posed by the other side.
While the US had previously accused the missiles of violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty of 1987, Gen. Selva made no such allegation today, saying only that such missiles violated “the spirit” of the treaty. This presumably means, as Russia has insisted, they don’t violate the letter of the treaty.
It’s not clear when the missiles were actually deployed, or if they are nuclear-armed in the first place. Most of the speculation centered around a single 2008 test of such a missile, and more recently the removal of the X from the NATO designation, meaning the missile was no longer considered experimental, fueled more media attention.