In a last ditch attempt to save the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States, Russia has taken the unusual step of putting their new missile, the 9m729, on display for foreign audiences to inspect.
The US has accused the Russian missile of violating the INF, though Russia maintains that this is not the case. The missile is on display at a military theme park on the outskirts of Moscow.
At issue is the maximum range of the 9m729. Russia says it has a maximum range of 480 km, and testing was broadly at the 400 km range. The INF would forbid the missile if its range exceeds 500 km. The US has argued that they believe the missile has a longer theoretical range, and is therefore in violation.
US diplomats were also quick to condemn Russia for the public display of the missile, declaring it “insufficient” to comply with US demands. The US had demanded Russia either scrap all such missiles systems, or hand them over to the US to be dismantled and tested by American forces.
Russia, naturally, has no intention to hand over its newest missile to the United States to be taken apart. Russian officials have noted that the US has refused even the static display access they are offering for certain US-made weapons of concern.
In practice, the US has been planning to withdraw from the INF for some time, and never intended to accept Russian offers for increased access to the missile. The suggestion that they must be physically given missiles to test themselves is a demand intended to be rejected, and to provide the US with a narrative in which scrapping the deal isn’t their fault.