It’s easy to focus on the side of the Trump-Putin relationship that revolves around Trump’s admiration for the Russian autocrat. But there’s a bigger problem than Trump encouraging corruption of US elections or even gifting Putin with $500 billion in oil money by lowering existing sanctions. Trump has also repeatedly demonstrated to the Russian leader that he's weak and incompetent, and that impression of weakness has serious consequences.
Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile despite complaints from American officials that it violates a landmark arms control treaty that helped seal the end of the Cold War, administration officials say.
The move presents a major challenge for President Trump, who has vowed to improve relations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and to pursue future arms accords.
The missile roll out comes at the same time as increased Russian assaults on Ukraine. Putin is testing Trump on every front. Meanwhile, Trump is weighed down with squabbles in his own cabinet and the weighty responsibility to tweet arguments with CNN. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or the weather.
The missile Russia is rolling out is an intermediate range, land-based missile — a type of missile specifically forbidden under a 1987 treaty signed between the US and then Soviet Union. Russia has been testing the missiles for years, with US objections. But now the missiles are actually being deployed in operational units.
The SSC-8 missile system is dangerous specifically because these missiles are small and easily concealed. With a maximum range that could exceed 3,000 miles, they would represent a new and highly mobile launch system that could allow Russia to fire both conventional and nuclear warheads into both Europe and the Middle East from rapidly shifting locations. This kind of mobile platform is destabilizing, difficult to detect, and harder to intercept.
Another way in which Putin is showing that Trump is under his thumb
A Russian spy ship was spotted patrolling off the East Coast of the United States on Tuesday morning, the first such instance during the Trump administration -- and the same day it was learned the Kremlin had secretly deployed controversial cruise missiles inside Russia and buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S. officials told Fox News.
Recently, Putin has sneered at the treaty.
In a June 2013 meeting with Russian defense industry officials, Mr. Putin described Mr. Gorbachev’s decision to sign the accord as “debatable to say the least,” but asserted that Russia would uphold the agreement. Even some American conservative analysts say that in pursuing the compliance concern, the United States should not provide the Kremlin with an opportunity to back out of the agreement.
But while President Obama remained in office, Putin held back the SSC-8 from deployment. Now, in the face of the Trump regime’s chaos, distraction, and ineffectiveness, Putin is charging ahead with treaty violations of all sorts.