NATO has evidence that Russian Federation has started to deploy a new intermediate-range missile system, the 9M729, in breach of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces or INF Treaty, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference on October 2 in Brussels.
"According to the USA, they (Russia) have started to deploy that missile".
According to the US "Breaking Defense" website, Russian Federation has also long complained that the United States is violating the INF treaty, pointing to the Aegis Ashore missile interceptor sites in Romania, and soon Poland, as being capable of launching Tomahawk missiles.
While Russia has denied that the system violates the INF, NATO says the treaty is in jeopardy of unraveling.
Moscow has repeatedly insisted it is not in breach of the treaty, but its denials have cut little ice in Western capitals.
Indeed, in his pre-ministerial press conference, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that "the most plausible assessment would be that Russian Federation is in violation of the treaty".
"The exercise is defensive and it is transparent", Stoltenberg said, adding that Russian Federation had been "invited to send observers".
Moscow denies that it is doing anything untoward, and claims in turn that US missile systems are in breach of the agreement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry blasted the statements made by the U.S. envoy as "aggressive and destructive", adding that they will get a detailed response from Russian military experts. Should such missiles be completed, she said at the Tuesday briefing, "at that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a [Russian] missile that could hit any of our countries". The issue is bound to be high on the agenda when North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers meet in Brussels later this year.
"We have been trying to send a message to Russian Federation for several years that we know they are violating the treaty, we have shown Russian Federation the evidence that we have that they are violating the treaty", Hutchison said. Those may, in time, overshadow the missiles that are now part of the INF treaty debate.
"All members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including Russian Federation, have been invited to send observers", he said.
Russia has long feared that USA missile shields could be used covertly to preemptively target the man who controls the Russian nuclear arsenal - Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The INF Treaty, signed in 1987 between the USA and Soviet Union, prohibits either country from developing nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 310 miles and 3,100 miles. The Pentagon had drawn up a draft of the Trump administration's new missile defense policy early this year, but top officials sent it back to the drawing board after demanding that it more thoroughly address the Russian cruise missile threat in Europe. The treaty was the first that completely eliminated an entire class of offensive nuclear weapons and removed a considerable number of nuclear weapons from the European continent on both sides.
"Now they have admitted the missile exists and therefore we have called on them to answer our questions".
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