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NATO ready to take military measures in resolving INF Treaty issue

According to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, "saving" the INF Treaty remains a top priority but "there is a need to get ready" to face a world without such a treaty

MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. The North Atlantic Alliance is ready to take military measures to resolve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) issue though dialogue with Russia still is the preferred option, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with the Norwegian News Agency on Thursday.

"Actions concerning the arms reduction agreement may be military in nature but we may also find a new approach," he said. The NATO secretary general also pointed to the ultimatum presented to Russia over its alleged violations of the Treaty. "We gave Russia one last chance. The deadline is February 2," Stoltenberg said.

When asked about the possibility to avoid raising tensions with Russia, he emphasized the importance of dialogue. "As long as NATO’s position is strong and solid, we can maintain dialogue with Russia. This is what I learned from Norway’s political activities [Stoltenberg served as Norway’s prime minister in 2000-2001 and 2005-2013 - TASS]. Norway has always been closely cooperating with Russia in many areas, not in spite of but because of NATO," he added.

The secretary general also mentioned NATO’s plans for 2019. According to him, "saving" the INF Treaty remains a top priority but "there is a need to get ready" to face a world without such a treaty. "It is so serious that I am not going to make speculations about what NATO will do in this case," Stoltenberg said commenting on the possible failure of talks.

According to him, disagreements within NATO will be another important issue, which are particularly based on US President Donald Trump’s statements about NATO's necessity. "We often think that NATO exists only to provide the US with an opportunity to keep an eye on Europe. But no, Europe also contributes to ensuring the security of the United States," the secretary general said, noting that NATO had invoked Article 5 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

INF Treaty situation

The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, 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 the recent years, Washington has been repeatedly accusing Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own claims concerning Washington’s non-compliance.

On October 20, 2018, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would pull out of the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said it was a dangerous move. Berlin and Beijing criticized Washington, while London voiced its support for the US, and NATO laid the blame for Trump’s decision on Russia.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on December 4 that Washington would suspend its obligations under the Treaty unless Moscow returned to "full and verifiable" compliance within 60 days. On December 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that Washington had not provided evidence proving Moscow’s violations of the document. He also said that Russia called for maintaining the Treaty but if the United States pulled out of it, Moscow would have to give an appropriate response.