- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2014

In what could lead to further deterioration of the U.S.-Russia relationship, the White House said Monday that Moscow stands in violation of a 1987 treaty prohibiting the possession, production or use of intermediate-range cruise missiles.

According to an administration official, Russia is not compliant with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by President Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Russia reportedly violated the treaty by testing a long-range ground-based cruise missile.

The treaty bans any such weapons with ranges between approximately 310 miles and 3,450 miles.

“This is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now,” an administration official said Monday night. “The United States is committed to the viability of the INF Treaty. We encourage Russia to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty and to eliminate any prohibited items in a verifiable manner. We have kept the Congress and our allies informed of this matter.”

The news comes as the relationship between Moscow and Washington has hit a low not seen since the Cold War ended more than 20 years ago.

The White House continues to excoriate Russia for backing separatists in Ukraine — separatists whom the administration accuses of using Russian-supplied weapons to shoot down an airliner over Ukraine two weeks ago.

SEE ALSO: Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon

Russia also is harboring former National Security Agency Contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed classified information about U.S. surveillance and data-gathering efforts.

In response to the treaty violation, the White House is preparing a “senior-level bilateral dialogue” between Moscow and Washington. The New York Times reported that dialogue has already begun, with a letter from President Obama to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We have notified Russia of our determination and are prepared to discuss this in a senior-level bilateral dialogue immediately, with the aim of assuring the United States that Russia will come back into compliance with its treaty obligations,” the administration official said. “The United States will, of course, consult with allies on this matter to take into account the impact of this Russian violation on our collective security if Russia does not return to compliance.”

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