North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief sees new USA missile deployments in Europe as unlikely

Erika Holt
October 26, 2018

The comments come after Trump's weekend announcement that Washington would be exiting the landmark treaty, which eliminated all USA and Russian nuclear missiles with ranges of 310-3,420 miles (500-5,500 kilometers) and their launchers, citing alleged Russian violations of the pact.

In recent years, China has developed "land-based intermediate missiles (capable of carrying conventional and nuclear payloads)", Lee said in a column published Monday on CNN's website.

Mr Putin used the start of the meeting with Mr Bolton to take the White House to task over what he said were a series of unprovoked USA steps against Moscow.

While concerned about Russia's new missile system, Stoltenberg pointed out that he does not expect a repeat of the so-called "Euromissiles crisis" in the 1980s when the United States deployed cruise missiles in Europe to counterbalance a perceived threat from Russia's SS-20 nuclear warheads. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said that a USA withdrawal from the treaty would mean "mankind is facing full chaos in the nuclear weapons sphere".

Mr Putin rejected Mr Trump's claim that Russian Federation breached the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The European Union said in a statement Monday that beyond urging Russian Federation to stick to the INF Treaty, the bloc of countries also expects "the United States to consider the consequences of its possible withdrawal from the INF on its own security, on the security of its allies and of the whole world".

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said European members were unlikely to deploy new weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets US national security adviser John Bolton during a meeting at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

"And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to". He said he did not understand why Europe should be put "in such grave danger".

Maxwell Downman, nuclear policy analyst for the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), a London-based thinktank that promotes nuclear disarmament, agreed with Pfier.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was not productive to divine coffee grounds as to the Trump administration's plans. "That's a huge loss for both countries, particularly for Russian Federation", he said. That's not surprising. The biggest winners from the treaty have, indeed, been in Europe.

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"This is the sort of action where the United States makes the decision, and all the risks and consequences are on Europe", Downman said.

This could place extra stress on already-strained relations between the USA and the Trump administration's protectionist policies.

The European Commission has urged the United States and Russian Federation to pursue talks to save the treaty. It limits the number of nuclear warheads and their launchers, restricting the USA and Russian nuclear arsenals to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads for each country.

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov on Tuesday evening said that U.S. accusations about elections interference were "mentioned but not discussed", according to Interfax.

The landmark treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and led to almost 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles being eliminated.

It is unclear what the short-term prospects for the INF are, since United States officials have yet to notify Russian Federation that they have started the clock on the six-month process to formally pull out of the pact. "And it includes China, and it includes Russian Federation, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game".

The European Union warned Trump of a potential impact on European security if he made a decision to go ahead and leave the INF treaty.

"We are ready to work together with our American partners without any hysteria", he said. "All allies have strongly stated that we are concerned about the new missile and that the most plausible explanation is that Russian Federation is in violation of the INF treaty".

Bolton's visit to Moscow was his second in his role as Trump's national security adviser, signaling the Trump administration's intention to maintain contact with Russian Federation despite the uproar in Washington over its interference in the 2016 election.

A failure to renew New START, which expires in 2021, "would be a bad outcome, but one that doesn't necessarily have to come to pass", Levine said. "I think we probably will".

But Downman, the nuclear policy analyst for BASIC, said this is too risky of an outcome not to consider.

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