NATO says there is no sign that Russia is going backwards in the missile crisis

BRUSSELS: NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg He warned on Friday that the chances of saving a historic Cold War arms treaty diminished day after day, after talks with Russian officials made no progress.

Russia and the United States has suspended its participation in the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF), accusing each other of violating the agreement, which prohibited an entire class of nuclear-capable missiles.

Washington will definitively quit the deal on August 2 unless Russia destroys a controversial new missile system the US and NATO say breaches the accord, signed in 1987 between US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov .

NATO held talks with senior Russia n officials as part of efforts to save the deal, a week after alliance defence ministers agreed a package of counter-measures in case Moscow ignores the deadline.

"We didn't see any sign of Russia being willing to come back into compliance with the INF treaty," Stoltenberg told reporters after the meeting, adding that the "ongoing Russia n violation" was the only reason the treaty was under threat.

He said there was still time to save him, noting the speed with which Soviet forces could get rid of their medium-range weapons after the INF was signed.

"Back in 1987 Russia was able to destroy intermediate range cruise missiles in a few weeks," he said. "It is possible to do it in a few weeks because that has happened before."

The INF, which banned missiles launched from the ground with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, is considered a cornerstone of the global arms control architecture and its imminent demise has created fears for the future of the new START treaty, which limits the numbers of nuclear warheads. .

Alliance ministers last week agreed to review air and missile defences, along with intelligence and surveillance programmes, to boost their readiness to deal with the threat posed by Russia 's new 9M729 ground-launched cruise missiles.

Stoltenberg refused to give further details of the measures on Friday, saying NATO was still focused on trying to save the deal, but he said the alliance's existing ballistic missile defence shield would not be capable of shooting down Russia n missiles.

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