ANKARA (AA): NATO will address a wide range of issues, including Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, at a two-day defense ministers meeting beginning Wednesday, said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“Russia continues to violate the INF Treaty by deploying new intermediate-range nuclear capable missiles, the SSC-8 missiles. These missiles are hard to detect, mobile and can reach European cities, so this is something which is of great concern for all of us.
“We will continue to call on Russia to come back into compliance with the INF Treaty,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying in a statement ahead of the meeting in Brussels.
Stoltenberg said he expects to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week at the Munich Security Conference.
“I think it is important to have dialogue with Russia especially when we face so many difficult issues as we face today,” he added.
The U.S. accuses Russia of violating the INF treaty and announced Washington was withdrawing from the pact, which could come take effect Aug. 2.
On Feb. 2, in a tit-for-tat response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was suspending its obligations under the INF treaty.
The treaty has been widely seen as a cornerstone of European security in the post-Cold War era after the U.S. and Russia signed it in 1987. It prohibits both countries from possessing and testing ground launch missiles with a range between 300 – 3,100 miles (900 – 5,500 kilometers).
Stoltenberg said the ministers would also discuss burden-sharing.
“I welcome the fact that across Europe and Canada we see now that Allies are stepping up, investing more in defense. European Allies and Canada will have added 41 billion extra U.S. dollars to their defense spending since 2016, over the last 2 years,” he added.
The NATO chief expects this number to rise to $100 billion by the end of next year.
“So we are making progress on burden-sharing,” he said.
NATO missions and operations in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Kosovo will be other issues addressed, Stoltenberg said.