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22 Jul, 2019 20:14

Nice try, wrong missile: US botches propaganda video accusing Russia of INF violation

The US mission to NATO sought to blame Russia for the expiration of an arms control treaty by posting a Twitter cartoon claiming Moscow had developed a forbidden missile – but didn’t help its own argument by showing the wrong one.

In a surprisingly poor-quality video, narrated by a female AI voice, the US accused Russia of developing a missile that was banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and said there was still time for Moscow to “come back into full and verifiable compliance” before the deal expires on August 2. 

Not only is this not true, but the missile system shown in the cartoon was the perfectly legal and completely different Iskander-M.

While the Iskander is a short-range ballistic missile, the 9M729 (NATO codename SSC-8) is a short-range cruise missile that uses a similar platform, but has a completely different and visually distinctive launcher. All of which the US diplomatic and military officials could have seen for themselves, had they bothered to attend a public presentation of the system in January this year. 


Russian officials explained that the 9M729 is not some sort of new super-missile, but an upgrade of the existing 9M728 cruise missile, with a range of just under 500 kilometers – and therefore compliant with the treaty.

US claims about the weapon are based on newspaper reports from 2017, and unprovable intelligence community assessments based on different cruise missiles – the air-launched Kh-101 and sea-launched Kalibr, neither of which are banned under the INF Treaty. 

Also on rt.com Russia unveils evidence on missile that US claims violates INF Treaty, Washington snubs briefing

The easily avoidable missile mistake in the clip – produced by video wizards under contract to the US State Department – isn’t the worst of it, however. The real problem is the claim that preserving the INF treaty is somehow Russia’s responsibility, with just over a week left on the clock.

Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the decision to withdraw from the INF on July 3. Washington, however, initiated its widrawal in February – and signaled it was determined to do so three months prior, regardless of what Russia did, because the INF was a relic of the Cold War.

“There’s a new strategic reality out there,” US National Security Advisor John Bolton told reporters in Moscow in October 2018, describing the INF as a “bilateral treaty in a multipolar ballistic missile world,” that applied only to the US and Russia in Europe and did not do anything to constrain the actions of China, Iran or North Korea. 

Also on rt.com US sticking to INF Treaty withdrawal, to be filed in due course – Bolton after Moscow visit

Bolton had also brushed off concerns about the INF, bringing up another unilateral treaty exit on his watch – the 2001 decision to scrap the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) pact – and arguing it did not unravel “international strategic stability” as the doomsayers predicted.

Russia, however, has cited the US exit from the ABM treaty as one of the key reasons – along with NATO’s eastward expansion – for its military modernization program and in particular the development of new missile technologies capable of maintaining its nuclear deterrent.

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