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

Allied Defence Ministers have wrapped up a key meeting in Brussels to address Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

At a news briefing aftewards, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that all 29 NATO Allies agree that the SSC-8 missile system developed and deployed by Russia is a significant risk to our security.It is mobile and hard to detect.

He said, "It can reach European cities with little warning, carrying a conventional or nuclear warhead.And it lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weaponsThe United States and other Allies have engaged with Russia about this missile system for years.Including at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council last month.

"It’s clear that a treaty that is only respected by one side cannot keep us safe.That is why the United States, with the full support of all NATO Allies, has announced its intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty.This will take six months.So Russia still has a chance to come back into compliance.

"And we call on Russia to take this opportunity.Russia knows what to do.All Allies stand ready to engage further with Russia.But we are also preparing for a world without the INF Treaty.

"And Defence Ministers discussed this today.NATO is currently assessing the consequences of Russia’s breach of the Treaty.I will not pre-empt the outcome of this process.

"But any steps we take will be defensive, measured and coordinated.And we do not intend to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.NATO will continue to maintain credible and effective deterrence and defence.

"At the same time, Allies remain committed to effective arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation.NATO does not want a new arms race.Our Alliance remains agile and ready to deal with any threat from any direction.

"We are currently adapting the NATO command structure.And working on a new Readiness Initiative, which we call the “Four Thirties”. This means that Allies will make available: 30 combat ships, 30 land battalions,and 30 air squadrons,within 30 days or less. To increase our ability to respond quickly and decisively to any future crisis.

"Today, a number of nations have made offers to our Readiness Initiative.  And I welcome this.Because it will not just increase our readiness,

But it will also help us share the burden of our security more fairly.Tonight, we will discuss progress on three areas of burden sharing:Cash, capabilities and contributions.At our Summit in July, leaders agreed there is a new sense of urgency.And decided to develop credible national plans.

"As a result, since 2016, European Allies and Canada have spent an extra 41 billion US dollars on defence. 

"And based on the latest national plans, this number will rise to a cumulative one hundred billion dollars by next year.Allies are modernizing their equipment. And contributing more to NATO missions and operations.There is still work to do to adapt to an unpredictable world.

But as we approach our 70th anniversary, the Alliance is in good shape.

He added, "All Allies and NATO as an alliance will continue to engage with Russia. We have already raised this issue in the NATO-Russia Council, we did that just a few weeks ago, where we called on Russia to come back into compliance in a verifiable and transparent way. NATO has been and is very united on the issue of INF, meaning that we both convey a message to Russia to come back into compliance, but we are also united as in our plan, and prepare for a world with more Russian missiles and without the INF Treaty.

"I expect the INF Treaty to also be an issue that will be addressed at the Munich Security Conference, because this affects, of course, all NATO Allies but also other countries. We will continue to raise this in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council and I know that several Allies have already, and are planning, to raise this bilaterally with Russia."

Stoltenberg saaid, "So, Russia knows that we are ready, knows that we think and believe that the INF Treaty is of great importance, but no treaty will work if it’s only respected by one side. And, therefore, it is Russia that has the responsibility to come back to compliance and to preserve the Treaty.

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