The United States of America has delivered Russia with a 60-day ultimatum on Tuesday to come clean about what Washington says is a violation of a arms control treaty that keeps missiles out of Europe, saying only Moscow could save the pact.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) allies led by Germany pressed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting in Brussels to give diplomacy a final push before Washington pulls out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, fearing a new arms race in Europe.
“Russia has a last chance to show in a verifiable way that they comply with the treaty … but we also have to start to prepare for the fact that this treaty may break down,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.
SecState: In light of Russia’s repeated #INF treaty violations & larger pattern of lawlessness, U.S. declares it has found #Russia in material breach of the treaty & will suspend our obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days, unless 🇷🇺 returns to full & verifiable compliance.
— US Mission to NATO (@USNATO) December 4, 2018
Russia has dismissed allegations by NATO and Washington that Moscow has been breaching a Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty with the United States by developing banned cruise missiles.
“Russia strictly abides by the provisions of the [INF] treaty, and the American side knows this,” stated the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Germany, the Netherlands and Belgian are concerned about the deployment of US missiles in Europe – as happened in the 1980s, touching off large anti-American demonstrations – while being caught up in nuclear competition between Moscow and Washington.
A U.S. exit from the INF treaty would put another strain on NATO allies already shaken by Trump’s demands for higher defence spending and what diplomats say is a lack of clarity about where U.S. strategy is heading on the issue.