NATO leaders on Tuesday accused Russia of failing to abide by the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an agreement U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to withdraw the United States from unless Moscow complies.
NATO foreign ministers, who met in Brussels, issued a statement condemning Russia for developing and fielding a missile system, a violation of the INF Treaty of 1987. The treaty banned all land-based cruise missiles with a range of between 310 miles and 3,417 miles.
The statement came in response to U.S. concerns over Russia’s nuclear activity.
“We strongly support the finding of the United States that Russia is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty,” NATO foreign ministers said.
“We call on Russia to return urgently to full and verifiable compliance. It is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.”
Pompeo, who attended the meeting, said the United States would withdrawn from the INF Treaty in 60 days unless Russia complies with the agreement.
“The United States declares today it has found Russia in material breach of the treaty and will suspend our obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance,” he said.
“These violations of the INF treaty cannot be viewed in isolation from the larger pattern of Russian lawlessness on the world stage,” he added. “The list of Russia’s infamous acts is long: Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, election meddling, Skripal and now the Kerch Strait, to name just a few.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied that Russia was out of compliance with the treaty.
“Russia scrupulously abides by the provisions of the treaty, and the U.S. side knows this,” she said.
In October, President Donald Trump threatened to build up the United States’ nuclear stockpile in response to Russia’s lack of compliance with the INF Treaty.
“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President [Barack] Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out,” Trump said at the time. “We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” Trump said. “We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement but Russian has not, unfortunately …. so were going to terminate the agreement.”