NATO Defence Ministers meet to address Russia's violation of the INF Treaty

14 Février, 2019, 03:43 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, centre, arrives for a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

Jens Stoltenberg urged Russian Federation to return to compliance with Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty it agreed bilaterally with the United States in 1987.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Jan. 25, 2019.

The US withdrawal will only take effect in August, giving a six-month window to save the treaty, but few expect this to happen and Stoltenberg said NATO had to prepare for a "future without the INF treaty and with more missiles".

The collapse of the 1987 treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres, has sparked fears of a new arms race in Europe.

If Turkey does purchase Russian arms, it could put at risk the types of defenses other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies could have in the country, affect the inter-operability of defense systems and violate security and intelligence among alliance members, Hutchison said. He declined to say what measures are being considered.

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Stoltenberg's comments came after Russia's Ministry of Defense said last Thursday that the United States should destroy its MK-41 missile defense systems deployed in Romania in order to return to compliance.

Stoltenberg said the new Russian missiles were just the latest example of Moscow's increasingly assertive posture. "We all know that a treaty that is only respected by one side can not keep us safe". Russian Federation contends the ground-fired cruise missile has a range of less than 500 kilometers, and that USA target practice missiles and drones violate the pact. Russian Federation denies it is in contravention and has announced that it will pull out too.

While Washington and Moscow are at odds over the INF, the treaty does nothing to constrain China, whose fast-growing military depends on medium-range missiles as a key aspect of its defense strategy.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, sought to reassure them.

"At the same time, we are planning for a world without the INF Treaty".

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