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While India, Russia close in on defence deal, West is rattled over Moscow’s missiles

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Brussels, Oct 4: The West is turning increasingly apprehensive about Russia's new missile system. On Wednesday, October 3, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) chief Jens Stoltenberg sought the Kremlin to prove that it is abiding by the Cold War nuclear arms reduction treaty, AFP reported. The US has been complaining for nearly two years that a ground-launched missile system deployed by Moscow violates the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Nato defence ministers are set to discuss the issue at an upcoming two-day meeting here after it was said in its July summit that the Russian 9M729 missile system gave rise to "serious concerns", the report added.

Referring to the 1987 treaty signed by former US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a "cornerstone of European security", Stoltenberg said: "We are very serious about our concerns and very serious when we call on Russia to comply with the INF treaty in a transparent and verifiable way."

While India, Russia close in on defence deal, West is rattled over Moscow’s missiles

He said Moscow had earlier denied that the missile even existed but now have admitted their existence and the West has hence called on them to answer their questions.

Also Read | Putin to arrive today, key pacts on the cards

"As long as they don't answer our questions, the most plausible solution is that this is a violation of the INF treaty," the Nato chief said.

US threatened a preemptive strike against Russia?

On Tuesday, the US Ambassador to Nato Kay Bailey Hutchinson revealed an alarming position saying the US might "take out" Russian missiles that the US considers a violation of the 1987 treaty.

Though her words seemed ambiguous, arms control experts said they could be interpreted as "preemptive strike" which could lead to a devastating turn.

Also Read | India and Russia likely to sign a $2.5 billion deal for four stealth frigates

Hutchinson later clarified on Twitter that she was not talking about any preemptive strike after the Russian foreign ministry took her words seriously. The diplomatic damage was, however, done by then.

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