Estonia would back US leaving Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Defense minister Jüri Luik, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, and German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, June 2019. Source: Olivier Hoslet/EPA/Scanpix

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa) has confirmed that the allies in NATO will back the United States' leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty should Russia not change its course before Aug. 2.

The United States find that Russia has violated the INF treaty by introducing an updated version of its RK-55 missile, given the NATO reporting name SSC-8. This missile, according to NATO, violates range restrictions set out in the treaty.

The U.S. government has announced its intention to in turn withdraw from the INF treaty as well should Russia insist on its missile beyond Aug. 2 this year.

According to Luik, the alliance is ready to back the Americans in their decision. "The violation of the treaty on the part of Russia has a negative influence on European security, and because of that we discussed assessments and possible countermeasures with our allies in NATO," Luik said.

The minister added that the alliance will continue its efforts to strengthen its deterrent, and its defensive posture in Eastern Europe.

"For Estonia, it is important that NATO continues with the implementation of what was agreed by the heads of state at the Warsaw and Brussels summits," he added. "This means updating defense plans, and matters of air defense."

Increasing defense spending to promote a more even sharing of the cost burden needs to continue as well, Luik added. "This makes it possible on one hand to proceed with the strengthening of our deterrent and defensive posture, and on the other makes it possible to develop the forces and strengths needed to contribute to NATO operations and missions."

The ministers also discussed Afghanistan, and the future of NATO's Resolute Support mission there in connection with upcoming elections.

Luik also met with French defense minister, Florence Parly, to discuss joint operations and the allies' increased presence in Estonia.


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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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