North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief claims alliance preparing defensive measures for 'INF-free world'

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Stoltenberg called on Russian Federation to return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which the alliance insists Russian Federation violated by developing a new missile system Moscow calls Novator 9M729.

The Pentagon believes that Russia's ground-fired Novator 9M729 cruise missile - known in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation parlance as the SSC-8 - could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice.

The US began the process of exiting the treaty earlier this month in response to Moscow's deployment of the 9M729 missile, prompting Russian Federation to announce its own withdrawal.

The U.S. began the six-month process of withdrawing from the treaty on February 2, claiming Russia's missile system violates the treaty's range requirements.

"At this meeting of defense ministers, we will discuss what steps North Atlantic Treaty Organisation should take to adapt to a world with more Russian missiles", Stoltenberg asserted.

NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during a news conference at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.

"They are part of a broader picture where we have seen Russian Federation investing heavily in modern military capabilities over a long time, including new nuclear capabilities", he said.

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The INF, which ended a buildup of warheads in Europe, bans the production and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers.

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".

"Moscow continues to develop and deploy several battalions of the SSC-8 missile", Stoltenberg said.

"They have announced a lot of new nuclear weapons systems and they have used force against a neighbour in Ukraine". It claims that US target-practice missiles and drones also break the treaty.

Stoltenberg's comments came after Russia's Ministry of Defense said last Thursday that the United States should destroy its MK-41 missile defense systems deployed in Romania in order to return to compliance.

He accused the USA of abandoning the agreement "to free itself of any constraints in the arms sphere (and) gain absolute military superiority", in a column published by the Russian newspaper Vedomosti.

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