US reportedly believes Russia secretly deployed new cruise missile in violation of treaty

WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Russia has deployed a new cruise missile despite complaints by U.S. officials that it violates an arms control treaty banning ground-based U.S. and Russian intermediate-range missiles, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified officials.

The newspaper said Russia had secretly deployed the ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile that Moscow has been developing and testing for several years, despite U.S. complaints that it violated sections of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty.

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The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the New York Times story.

The U.S. State Department concluded in a July 2014 arms control report that "the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km (310 miles to 3,420 miles), or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles."

Russia accused Washington of conducting "megaphone diplomacy" after the accusation was repeated by the State Department in 2015. Moscow also denied it had violated the INF treaty, which helped end the Cold War between the two countries.

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The New York Times said the previous U.S. administration of President Barack Obama had attempted to persuade Moscow to correct the violation while the missile was still in the testing phase.

Instead, Russia has moved ahead with the SSC-8 missile, deploying it as an operational system, the report said.

Russia now has two battalions of the cruise missile, the newspaper quoted administration officials as saying. One is located at Russia's missile test site at Kapustin Yar in the country's southeast.

The other cruise missile battalion has been located at an operational base elsewhere in Russia, the Times quoted one unidentified official as saying.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Susan Heavey and Grant McCool)

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