Following Russia’s aggressive actions in Crimea, the Department of Defense suspended ballistic missile defense cooperation with Russia. This suspension includes civilian-to-civilian cooperation.

This is a step in the right direction. Russia has been trying to use ballistic missile defense cooperation with the U.S. to limit U.S. missile defense capabilities. Moscow partly achieved its goal when the Administration agreed to limit the U.S. missile defense system in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Russia is interested in keeping U.S. allies vulnerable to its ballistic missiles and has even threatened Poland with a nuclear attack in response to U.S. missile defense deployments.

Currently, more than 30 nations around the world possess ballistic missiles. These include Iran (which nearly has nuclear weapons capabilities) and North Korea (which already has it). The U.S. is currently behind a ballistic missile threat.

There are additional steps that the U.S. should be taking in response to Russian actions and the advancing ballistic missile threat. Russia is violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Currently, several Members of Congress are seeking a resolution “expressing the sense of Congress that the President should hold the Russian Federation accountable for being in material breach of its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.” This is an important step, as it would indicate to Russia that American people are concerned about these violations.

Intermediate-range ballistic missiles would reach the European theater, increasing allied vulnerability to Russian military systems. Russian actions underscore the need to encourage allies to increase their support for NATO ballistic missile defense capability. They also underscore the need to strengthen U.S. missile defense capabilities, including developing a layered comprehensive ballistic missile defense capabilities, including interceptors in space. The Administration should also reassess its cancelation of the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor that would be capable of shooting down long-range ballistic missiles.