NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference following the first day of a virtual meeting of NATO defense Ministers that the allies agreed on a typical response to the increased nuclear missile threat from Russia.
Stoltenberg told reporters that NATO defense Ministers on June 17 devoted a separate conversation to Moscow’s new capabilities: “We addressed the vast and growing Russian Arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles and the implications for NATO security. Last year, Russia’s deployment of SSC-8 missiles led to the termination of the INF Treaty. SSC-8 missiles can be used in two versions, are mobile, and are difficult to detect. They can reach European cities with a short warning time and lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.”
The NATO Secretary-General also mentioned Russia’s development of hypersonic weapons, its modernization of Intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as the work that Moscow is doing on other modern weapons systems.
“For many years, we have also noted Russia’s irresponsible rhetoric in the field of nuclear weapons aimed at intimidating and threatening NATO allies. Russia’s behavior is destabilizing and dangerous,” Jens Stoltenberg said.
NATO’s response, according to its Secretary-General, was to “agree on a balanced package of political and military elements” that includes “strengthening our integrated air and missile defenses.”
“Some allies have announced the acquisition of new air and missile defense systems, including Patriot and SAMP/T batteries (ground-to-air defense systems produced by European countries). We also agreed to strengthen our advanced development of traditional weapons. The allies are investing in these new capabilities, which include fifth-generation fighters. We are also adapting our intelligence and training,” Jens Stoltenberg said.
At the same time, the NATO Secretary-General repeated his earlier statements that the Alliance will not respond symmetrically to the deployment of new weapons by Russia and start an arms race: “We do not seek to mirror Russia, and we will not deploy new ground-based nuclear missiles in Europe.””