NATO Planning for More Russian Missiles in Europe

Sergio Conner
February 14, 2019

"I expect to meet minister Lavrov in Munich, and I think it is important to have dialogue with Russian Federation especially when we face so many hard issues as we face today", Stoltenberg said as he arrived for a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers. NATO is planning defensive measures in a world without the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty but does not intend to deploy new missiles in Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of a meeting between the alliance's defense chiefs.

Alliance meeting: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence chief Jens Stoltenberg has talks with defence ministers today.

On February 2, Washington launched the six-month process of leaving the INF, insisting a missile system Russian Federation calls the Novator 9M729 - known at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as the SSC-8 - breaks the pact's range requirements.

President Vladimir Putin a day later said Moscow would also abandon the accord, which restricts the deployment of missiles with a range of 500 kilometers (311 miles) to 5,500 kilometers.

"Moscow continues to develop and deploy several battalions of the SSC-8 missile", Mr Stoltenberg said. Russian Federation contends the ground-fired cruise missile has a range of less than 500 kilometers, and that US target practice missiles and drones violate the pact.

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.

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Mr Putin said: "Our American partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the treaty, and we are suspending it too".

European NATO members are especially keen to avoid any nuclear buildup and a repeat of the missile crisis in the 1980s.

But Stoltenberg said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had no intention of deploying "new nuclear land-based weapons systems in Europe".

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

"Any steps we take will be coordinated, measured, and defensive".

The top US envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Washington was open to a broad treaty with Russian Federation to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons while also warning Turkey not to purchase a new arms system from Moscow.

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