US strike drones, missiles for ballistic defense don’t violate INF treaty: NATO

Brussels:  NATO believes that US strike drones and target missiles for ballistic defense do not violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

“These issues have been discussed for several years, the question of UAVs, ballistic and target missiles, which are used to test ballistic defense. These systems are not in violation of the INF treaty,” the NATO chief said, responding to a question at a press conference on the results of the Russia-NATO Council session in Brussels.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier stated that Washington interprets the treaty’s obligations quite freely “when it hinders the creation of armaments important to them.”

This concerns the use of target missiles (Hera, LRALT and MRT) during missile shield weapons tests, as their characteristics are similar to the capabilities of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, which the United States classifies as ‘surface-to-air’ missiles permitted by the treaty. In contrast, Russian specialists believe that development of technologies for the production and use of missiles with a banned range of capabilities are being tested under the guise of these launches.

In October 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the use of strike drones by the US was a direct breach of the INF accord because they actually did not differ in any way from intermediate-and shorter-range missiles.