NATO chief on Tuesday said deployment of missiles by Russia in Europe is putting the nuclear arms treaty with the U.S. in jeopardy and called on Moscow to be in full compliance with it.
"The problem is the deployment of new Russian missiles, but no U.S. missiles in Europe, but there are more and more new Russian missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads," Jens Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference with the Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen in Norway, where he attended the Trident Juncture 2018 distinguished visitors' day.
"We are clear about that the U.S. is in compliance with INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty. No treaty can be effective if it's only respected by one party," Stoltenberg said.
"Therefore," he added, "we called on Russia to ensure that they are in full transparent compliance with the INF Treaty because we don't want any arms race."
Stoltenberg recalled that "65 ships at sea, 250 planes in the air, 10,000 vehicles on land, many experts in cyber, over 50,000 personnel from 29 Allies" joined the NATO exercise.
"This is a defensive exercise. It is not directed against any country. We are transparent in what we do," Stoltenberg said, adding that any international observers from Russia or any other countries would be welcomed.
"We exercise to strengthen our ability to operate together, to test and certify the NATO Response Force, and to send a clear message," he added.
NATO and the U.S. believe that Russia has been violating the treaty since 2013, when it has tested a ground-launched cruise missile.
On Oct. 20, the U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to pull the country from the landmark treaty with Russia, citing the latter's noncompliant behaviors.
"We're the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we've honored the agreement but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement so we're going to terminate [it]," Trump said.
Inked in 1987 in Washington, the INF treaty aimed to protect the allies of the U.S. and Russia in Europe and the Far East.
The treaty forbids Russia and the U.S. to have, produce or test ground-launched medium-range missiles with a range of between 300-3,400 miles.
Source: Anadolu Agency