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NATO-Russia Council sees no progress on saving INF accord

The NATO Chief put all the blame for the US unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty on Russia, accusing Moscow of violating the treaty

BRUSSELS, July 5. /TASS/. The sides of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) see no signs of progress in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), the situation is alarming and it is likely needed to prepare for the world without this treaty, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference following an NRC ambassador-level meeting in Brussels on Friday.

"All members of the NATO-Russia Council agree that the Treaty has been crucial to Euro-Atlantic security. But the Treaty is now in danger. Unfortunately, we have not seen any signs of a breakthrough. And time is running out. All participants expressed strong commitment to effective arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. But we must prepare for a world without the INF Treaty, which will be less stable for all of us," he said.

The NATO Secretary General put all the blame for the US unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty on Russia, accusing Moscow of violating the treaty. "There is only one way to save the treaty and that is by Russia coming back into compliance, but Russia showed no signs, declared no intention of withdrawing or destroying these missiles [that violate the treaty]," Stoltenberg underlined.

He emphasized that "it is possible, if they [Russia] will, they can start now to comply with the treaty in a few weeks."

The United States accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty for the first time in July 2014. Moscow categorically denies Washington’s conclusions of violating the treaty and lays counter-claims that the US is not complying with the Treaty. Moscow has also repatedly pointed out that the development of new generation cruise missiles began as a result of the US unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM or ABMT) in 2002. Moreover, Russia has repeatedly warned the US about the inevitability of a new arms race stage back when Washington was only discussing exiting the ABMT.

In December 2018, the US sent an ultimatum to Russia, demanding that the new Russian 9M729 cruise missiles, which according to the US and NATO allies, violate the INF Treaty, be destroyed. Russia rejected these demands, saying that the technical parameters of 9M729 cruise missiles are complying with the norms allowed by the treaty. The United States and NATO countries ignored all the submitted information, including the presentation of this missile. On February 1, the US announced the launch of the official termination process of the treaty. It requires six month, so the treaty will lose its force on August 2.