NATO diplomats to urge Russian compliance with nuclear arms deal

Brussels - NATO ambassadors are due Friday to meet their Russian counterpart for last-ditch efforts to bring the country back into compliance with a 1987 nuclear disarmament treaty, days after Moscow formally suspended its participation.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty bans the United States and Russia from producing or possessing ground-launched missiles - and their launchers - capable of carrying a nuclear warhead a distance of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.
The treaty has been a cornerstone of Europe's security architecture for the last three decades.
Washington, backed by its NATO allies, accuses Moscow of breaching the deal by developing its 9M729 missile system, known to NATO as SSC-8. It has set an August 2 deadline for Russia to come back into compliance, or else it will withdraw from the treaty.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that Russia still has a window of opportunity to save the INF Treaty. Meanwhile, NATO defence ministers agreed to issue a "measured and defensive" response if Moscow remains in breach.
Russia has rejected Washington's accusation and said in response that it would also pull out of the deal. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law formally suspending the country's compliance with the treaty.
Friday's meeting will also focus on developments in Ukraine and transparency on military manoeuvres, aimed at reducing the risk of clashes, Stoltenberg announced last week.
Russia will be represented by its most senior diplomat to NATO, Yuri Gorlach, according to a NATO official. It is the second such meeting this year.

Friday, July 5th 2019

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