NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg publicly reassured the international community on Friday that the Atlantic Alliance does not intend to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe in the coming year. The NATO statement came out some hours after both the U.S. and Russian Presidents, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin respectively, announced the suspension of the INF Treaty.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was ratified in Washington on 8 December 1987 by the leaders of the two Cold War adversaries, the U.S. and Soviet Union. The U.S. President Donald Reagan and the Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev pledged to banish the development of missile systems with a target range reaching up to 5.500 kilometres. Since then, both parties have criticised each other over potential violations of the INF Treaty in their nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals. These criticisms came to a head in October 2018 when the U.S. President Donald Trump declared Washington’s eventual withdrawal from the treaty by February 2019 in case Russia continued to violate INF provisions. The Kremlin on the other hand denounced Washington for deploying ballistic missile defence systems across European and Middle Eastern allies. Both parties suspended the treaty on Friday, with Washington giving a 180-day grace period to Russia to adhere to INF treaty provisions. In a different case scenario, Washington plans to completely withdraw from the INF Treaty.