NATO planning for more Russian missiles: Stoltenberg

303

BRUSSELS, Feb 12, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – NATO is planning for “more Russian
missiles” after the collapse of a landmark Cold War arms treaty, but will not
deploy new nuclear warheads in Europe, the organisation’s chief said Tuesday.

Fears are growing of a new arms race in Europe after Washington started the
process of exiting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
claiming that Russia violated the pact with a new missile system.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would beef up its
defences but insisted this did not mean “mirroring” any Russian build-up of
missiles.

The fate of the INF treaty, signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1987
to ban ground-launched mid-range missiles, will be high on the agenda as NATO
defence ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday.

Western capitals want Russia to return to compliance with the treaty by
abandoning its new 9M729 missile system.

“We are both urging Russia to come back in compliance but at the same time
we are planning for a world without the INF treaty and with more Russian
missiles,” Stoltenberg said.

“We don’t have to mirror what Russia does but we need to make sure we have
effective deterrence and defence.”

Stoltenberg repeated warnings that the new Russian missiles made nuclear
conflict more likely because they are mobile, hard to detect, and give little
warning time.

The US Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said the Pentagon has
already started looking at how best to defend against the new missiles.

“America felt it was time for us to have a defence and not be left without
a defence with Russia having missiles that were in violation,” she said.

“What is going to happen going forward? First of all, the defence we would
be working on is conventional, not nuclear.”

The INF treaty banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500
kilometres (310 to 3,400 miles), ending a dangerous build-up of warheads on
mainland Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the US pullout by saying
Moscow would also leave the treaty, and his defence minister announced plans
for new missiles — prompting Trump to vow to outspend Moscow.

While pointing the finger at each other, both Washington and the Kremlin
have voiced concern that the bilateral INF treaty does nothing to constrain
China, whose rapidly growing military relies on medium-range missiles as a
core part of its defence strategy.

image_printPrint