NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s statements about the Alliance’s readiness to take military measures to resolve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) issue, are baffling and aimed at covering up a crisis within NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
«It is nothing new to us that NATO officials are skilled in shifting the blame on to others,» the statement reads. «The NATO secretary general’s statements are just another attempt to cite the imaginary Russian threat in order to cover up things that are clear to everyone — a crisis emerged within the Alliance following the United States’ decision to pull out of the [INF] Treaty, which is crucial for European and global security, including the security of Washington’s allies,» the Russian Foreign Ministry added.
«Attempts to use the language of ultimatums and talk about ‘one last chance’ for Russia — like Stoltenberg did — run counter to statements, which claim that keeping the Treaty in place is the Alliance’s priority,» the statement notes. «On the contrary, such statements impede efforts to resolve the situation through professional dialogue,» TASS quoted the statement as saying.
The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that «it is Russia that has been doing everything possible to make the INF Treaty work.» «There is no need to call on Moscow to maintain dialogue on the issue not only with Washington but with NATO as well,» the document says. «At the recent meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on October 31, 2018, Russia initiated an exchange of views on the crisis surrounding the INF Treaty. In particular, we once again drew attention to our concerns about the United States’ compliance.»
«If NATO is really willing to take ‘military’ measures, it could dismantle the Mk-41 launching systems deployed to Romania in breach of the INF Treaty and included in NATO’s air defenses,» the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.
Stoltenberg said in an interview with the Norwegian News Agency on Thursday that the North Atlantic Alliance was ready to take military measures to resolve the INF Treaty issue though dialogue with Russia still is the preferred option.
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.