NATO Russia’s new missile lowers bar for the use of nuclear arms


By David Reid

Russia has failed to agree with the U.S over a missile it has
developed.NATO has called on Russia to come back within the terms of a
treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.The Russians have developed a missile which NATO says could
lower the bar for the use of nuclear arms.The U.S. looks set to quit a missile treaty with Russia after
the latter failed to agree to destroy a nuclear-capable missile which is said
to be banned under a decades-old agreement. A meeting of the NATO-Russia
Council in Brussels on Friday broke up without agreement between Moscow and
NATO’s 29 member countries.

Russia has said it will not comply with a February 2 deadline
to destroy the missile, which is called the SSC-8 by NATO. The missile is
thought to be able to carry nuclear weapons at medium range and with short
notice, thereby threatening European cities.

At Davos on Thursday, the secretary general of NATO warned
that the new missile from Russia not only breaks a treaty with the U.S. but
also lowers the bar for the use of nuclear weapons. In October, President
Donald Trump announced the U.S. will end its 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear
Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, accusing Moscow of violating its terms by
developing the missile that contravenes the agreement.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, Jens
Stoltenberg agreed: “Russia is in violation of that treaty. They have
developed and deployed new missiles which are mobile, hard to detect, have a
short warning time and they are therefore reducing the threshold for the use of
any nuclear weapons,” he said. The INF Treaty between the U.S. and Russia
sought to eliminate nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their
launchers, with short ranges (310620 miles) and intermediate ranges (6203,420

Stoltenberg said NATO would do what it could to help preserve
the INF treaty but his military commanders were already looking into the
consequences of Russia’s new weapon and how it would need to be opposed.
“This is really serious and we have to do this in a measured and
responsible way.” he said.

US commitment to NATO

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday
that aims to stop Trump from withdrawing from NATO following his concerns that
other members are not paying enough. Stoltenberg said he saw evidence that
other countries were now stepping up efforts to provide the biggest
reinforcement in NATO since the end of the Cold War.

“NATO allies have added $41 billion defense spending and
by next year it will be $100 billion so European allies and Canada are really
stepping up,” he claimed. Speaking at the annual forum earlier on
Thursday, German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen told CNBC that her
country’s military spend was coming from a very low base but was continuously

“After (German) reunification, we all thought peace was
dominating and we all cut back on our armed forces. German armed forces were at
the absolute lowest level five years ago when I came into office,” she
said. Germany is expected to spend around 1.5 percent of its budget on defense
by 2024. Von Der Leyen said that figure would represent an 80 percent increase
from 2014. The minister argued that it would be misleading to focus on defense
commitment solely by the percentage of a country’s growth. “It is a matter of
outcome, of capabilities. We are the only continental country that are
protecting and reassuring our Baltic friends. We are the second largest troop
contributor to NATO and Afghanistan,” she added. Von Der Leyen said NATO
is “the strongest mightiest military alliance we have” but could not
be expected to deal with every regional issue.

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