North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief to meet Russia's Lavrov on missile pact crisis

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Allied Defence Ministers discussed at NATO Headquarters on Wednesday (13 February 2019) the consequences of Russia's breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

NATO's secretary-general warned Tuesday that the military alliance will respond to what it insists are Russia's violation of a key Cold War-era treaty but will not station more nuclear missiles in Europe.

The US withdrawal will only take effect in August, giving a six-month window to save the treaty, but few expect this to happen and Stoltenberg said NATO had to prepare for a "future without the INF treaty and with more missiles".

President Vladimir Putin a day later said Moscow would also abandon the accord, which restricts the deployment of missiles with a range of 500 kilometers (311 miles) to 5,500 kilometers.

NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during a news conference at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, centre, arrives for a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. He declined to say what measures are being considered.

"Moscow continues to develop and deploy several battalions of the SSC-8 missile", Stoltenberg said.

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The Pentagon believes that Russia's ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice. It claims that USA target-practice missiles and drones also break the treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the USA withdrawal from the treaty by announcing it would also pull out.

European NATO members are especially keen to avoid any nuclear build-up and a repeat of the missile crisis in the 1980s.

But Stoltenberg said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had no intention of deploying "new nuclear land-based weapons systems in Europe".

"They are part of a broader picture where we have seen Russian Federation investing heavily in modern military capabilities over a long time, including new nuclear capabilities", he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been adamant that Turkey would take the Russian missile system, saying traditional allies in the West failed to meet his country's defensive needs.

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