NATO-Russia relations key item on the agenda of upcoming NATO foreign ministers’ meeting

The relations with Russia, as well as NATO’s steps in relation to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty will become the key items on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Washington on April 3-4, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during Monday’s press conference in Brussels.

“On Thursday, we will begin by addressing NATO’s relations with Russia,” he said. “Russia continues to defy our calls to return to compliance with the INF Treaty. And time is running out. So we will discuss NATO’s next steps.”

The secretary general added that on the outcomes of the April 3-4 ministerial meeting in Washington, timed to the 70th anniversary of the alliance, NATO members would release a statement on Russia and the INF Treaty.

“The Alliance remains strongly committed to arms control. But we must also continue to maintain credible and effective deterrence and defense,” he pointed out.

 On February 1, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF starting February 2. Washington stated that it was determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russia returns to “real and verifiable” compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show willingness for an equal and substantive dialogue. On February 5, Trump mentioned the possibility of negotiating “a different agreement – adding China and others.”.