Russia not in breach of INF treaty, NATO accusations baseless - Bondarev
MOSCOW. Feb 19 (Interfax) - Russia does not violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, so NATO leaders' accusations that it does are baseless, Viktor Bondarev, head of the Federation Council defense and security committee, said.
"Russia does not violate the treaty on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles," Bondarev told Interfax on Monday.
He was commenting on the remark by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg who said that Russia's efforts to develop a new intermediary-range missile could push the world to the brink of a new stage of the nuclear arms race.
By "modernizing its nuclear forces" and "exercising with nuclear forces" Russia risks starting a new stage in nuclear arms race in Europe, Stoltenberg said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild. He cited data from the U.S. which established that Russia was developing a new intermediary-range missile in violation of the 1987 INF treaty. Such Russian activities are "of great concern" for all NATO partners, Stoltenberg said.
"Official representatives from the pro-American NATO alliance are within their usual repertoire," Bondarev said. "Operating conjectures, suspicions rather than facts. And, as ever, they show no evidence for the accusation. Before making hollow accusations one should at least make some case," the Russian senator said.
He stressed that Russia honors all of its international commitments, including under the INF treaty. "I will recall that this document imposes a ban on ground-based missiles of the 500-5,500 kilometer range," Bondarev said.