BRUSSELS, December 5. /TASS/. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not provide a comment on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), claiming that Russia would start to produce the missiles banned by the treaty if the US chooses to exit it. On Wednesday, Stoltenberg repeated NATO’s allegations against Russia and mentioned the alliance’s recent statement, in which its members agreed to support the US on this issue.

“Russia has denied for years that they’re violating the INF Treaty. We’ve confronted them again and again with facts, with information, with our assessments, and they have continued to deny the existence of a new missile system,” Stoltenberg informed.

“All allies agree that Russia is in violation, is in material breach of the INF treaty. All [NATO allies] agree that the US is in full compliance with the treaty. There are no new US missiles in Europe, but there are new Russian missiles, SSC-8. They are mobile, they are hard to detect, they are nuclear capable, they can reach European cities, and they reduce the warning time,” the NATO secretary general said. “All missiles are dangerous, but of course, missiles which are hard to detect, nuclear capable and reduces the warning time, they are, if possible, even more dangerous,” Stoltenberg added.

“That’s the reason why we have been so concerned about this for years,” Stoltenberg stated. “We raised it [the issue] in the NATO-Russia council just a few weeks ago. Several allies announced in a meeting yesterday that they will raise this issue with Russia bilaterally,” he said, adding that “Russia has the last chance to come into compliance with the INF Treaty.” “But at the same time, we have to prepare for a world without the treaty,” the secretary general concluded.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday that the US would stop adhering to the treaty unless Russia returned to compliance with it within 60 days

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that “the statement by Mr. Pompeo is somewhat late, and initially the US side stated after all that it was going to withdraw from the INF Treaty, and then they started to look for the substantiation why they should do this.” The Russian leader added that if the US exits the treaty, Russia would start to produce the missiles banned under this agreement.

INF Treaty

On October 20, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov called this decision a dangerous move. Berlin and Beijing criticized Washington, London voiced its support for the US, while NATO laid the blame for Trump’s decision on Russia.

The INF deal was concluded on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years, Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own counterclaims against Washington’s non-compliance.

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