A widening rift between Moscow and Washington over cruise missiles and increasingly daring patrols by nuclear-capable Russian submarines threatens to end an era of arms control and bring back a dangerous rivalry between the world’s two dominant nuclear arsenals. Tensions have been taken to a new level by US threats of retaliatory action for Russian development of a new cruise missile.

Washington alleges it violates one of the key arms control treaties of the cold war, and has raised the prospect of redeploying its own cruise missiles in Europe after a 23-year absence. On Boxing Day, in one of the more visible signs of the unease, the US military launched the first of two experimental “blimps” over Washington. FULL REPORT