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Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. believes Russia has likely violated a ban on testing low-yield nuclear missiles, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley told the Hudson Institute think tank in a speech in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

"The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the 'zero yield' standard. ... Our understanding of nuclear weapon development leads us to believe that Russia's testing activities would help it improve its nuclear weapons capabilities."

Details: Ashley said Russia was likely testing weapons in the Novaya Zemlya islands, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia. He believes it intends to increase its nuclear arsenal "significantly" over the next decade.

Why it matters: This is the first time the U.S. has suggested Russia might have effectively violated its commitments under the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

  • It's a critical time for U.S.-Russian relations. The Trump administration announced in February it would withdraw from the Cold-War era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, due to formally end in August. The Pentagon plans to then begin testing missiles banned under the treaty.

The big picture: Russia has said it complies with the treaty, which it ratified in 2008. The U.S. has signed the treaty but not ratified it.

What they're saying: The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which bans nuclear weapons testing, said in a statement it hadn't detected any unusual activity, per the BBC.

Go deeper: How Russia's old threat became new again

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy is here to stay

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Why Trump may still fire Barr

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Barr may be fired or resign, as President Trump seethes about Barr's statement this week that no widespread voter fraud has been found.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the president's thinking tells Axios that Trump remains frustrated with what he sees as the lack of a vigorous investigation into his election conspiracy theories.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Trump's spy chief plans dire China warning

Xi Jinping reviews troops during a military parade in Beijing last year. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Thursday will publicly warn that China's threat to the U.S. is a defining issue of our time, a senior administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: It's exceedingly rare for the head of the U.S. intelligence community to make public accusations about a rival power.