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

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

During a gathering of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, Mr Stoltenberg urged Russian Federation to follow the rules of the treaty which, signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and the president of the then-USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges.

On February 2, Washington launched the six-month process of leaving the INF, insisting a missile system Russian Federation calls the Novator 9M729 - known at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as the SSC-8 - breaks the pact's range requirements.

2 launched the six-month process of leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty it signed with the Soviet Union in 1987, insisting that a new Russian missile system violates the pact.

The two-day meeting in Brussels is the first chance for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ministers to debate what steps the alliance will take to bolster its defence against new Russian medium-range missiles.

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

"At the same time, we are planning for a world without the INF Treaty".

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.

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Stoltenberg says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has many options but that its response "will be measured and it will be defensive because we don't want a new arms race".

Stoltenberg said that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has "a wide range of options, conventional and other options", but he declined to list them, warning that any speculation "would just add to the uncertainty".

Stoltenberg ruled out deploying new nuclear land-based weapon systems in Europe, but added their were other choices, including "conventional and other options".

Moscow denies the missile breaches the terms of the INF treaty and has made various counter-allegations against the US.

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

The U.S. doesn't have immediate plans to deploy new missiles to Europe when the withdrawal takes effect in August, according to two administration officials involved in the deliberations who briefed reporters last week on condition of anonymity.

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