BRUSSELS: NATO will aim to avoid a “new arms race” with Russia and not deploy nuclear missiles on European soil, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said, blaming Moscow for a Cold War pact’s demise on Friday.
The 29-country NATO rallied behind Washington after the United States and Russia on Friday ripped up the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
“We will not mirror what Russia does,” Stoltenberg told a press conference in Brussels. “We don’t want a new arms race. And we have no intention to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.”
He accused Moscow of torpedoing a pact limiting the use of medium-range missiles, both conventional and nuclear, by deploying a nuclear-capable cruise missile.
“Russia bears sole responsibility for the demise of the Treaty,” Stoltenberg said.
Washington has for years accused Russia of developing a new type of missile, the 9M729, which it says violates the treaty — claims that NATO has backed up.
The missile has a range of about 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) according to NATO, though Moscow says it can only travel 480 kilometres.
The INF treaty limits the use of missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.
Stoltenberg said the missile is nuclear-capable, mobile and difficult to attack, able to hit European cities with only minutes of warning time.
He echoed NATO statements that Russia had shown no willingness and taken no clear steps to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty.
He said all 29 NATO members stood behind the United States.
“NATO will respond in a measured and responsible way to the significant risks posed by the Russian 9M729 missile to Allied security,” the alliance chief said.
“We have agreed a balanced, coordinated and defensive package of measures to ensure NATO’s deterrence and defence posture remains credible and effective,” Stoltenberg said.
He referred to boosting conventional capabilites and reconnaissance.