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Calling out Russia: But weakly

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Obama administration finally is calling out Russia for violating 1987's Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Yet this White House, too deferential toward Moscow for too long in pursuit of further strategic nuclear arms reductions, is more focused on preserving that treaty than on punishing this violation — or on safeguarding America and its allies.

The New York Times reports Russian tests of a ground-launched cruise missile whose range violates an INF Treaty ban began as early as 2008 and were cited by the State Department as violating the treaty in May 2013. But only now has President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin, via a letter, that the testing violated the treaty.

About a year ago, the administration could have called out Russia for hiding another INF Treaty violation by dishonestly classifying a new road-mobile missile. But that opportunity was lost to the same deferentialism that's led this White House to gut U.S. missile defense in Europe — and Mr. Obama to emphasize “interest in high-level dialogue with Moscow with the aim of preserving the 1987 treaty” in his letter to Mr. Putin, according to The Times.

That's another deferential response, another appeasement, from an administration still more interested in possible further warhead cuts than in holding Russia accountable — or in neutralizing a clear threat to U.S. and allied security.

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