The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation last week that would require the Pentagon to deploy new weapons in two years to counter Russia's violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
The fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill considered by the committee last week contains language that directs the president, secretary of defense, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to evaluate and develop new U.S. and allied weapons in response to Russia's failure to explain its new intermediate-range cruise missile.
The legislation, contained in the $604.2 billion authorization bill, states that the U.S. government has been negotiating with Russia since 2013 on the violation and to date "the Russian Federation has failed to respond to these efforts in any meaningful way."
"For years, we've been urging the Obama administration to get serious about Russia's violation of the INF treaty," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces.
"Its response: we're talking to Russia," said Rogers, who sponsored the provision. "While Obama talks, Putin cheats on treaties and invades his neighbors. We must take Russia's actions seriously, and this authorization of DOD funding does just that. The United States will not be unilaterally bound by any treaty."
Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO commander, said the Russian INF violation "can't go unanswered."
"We need to first and foremost signal that we cannot accept this change and that, if this change is continued, that we will have to change the cost calculus for Russia in order to help them to find their way to a less bellicose position," Breedlove said. His remarks, made in April 2014, were quoted in the bill.