U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison warned today that the U.S. could “take out” Russian missiles being developed in violation of the INF Treaty “if this continues to a point where we know that they are capable of delivering.”
In advance of a defense ministerial this week, Hutchison told reporters at a news conference that on the agenda would be implementation of the “bold goal” to reach “four-30s” capability: “30 battalions, 30 ships, 30 air squadrons in 30 days to meet any crisis that any of our members would have.”
“We have a NATO Security Council meeting that will continue to work with NATO and Georgia together. This is a country that is an enhanced opportunity partner that we will continue to support,” she said.
“We’re going to have a Nuclear Planning Group. One of our most important deterrent activities is our nuclear deterrent activity, and with some of the happenings in the world, with countries that are rogue nations with nuclear capabilities, the nuclear deterrent is very important and we will have, certainly, a meeting of all of our allies on this subject.”
The ambassador noted the importance of two new division headquarters: one in the U.S. to focus on the North Atlantic maritime posture in light of increased Russian activity, and the other in Germany focused on logistics and mobility.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at his own press conference today that “allies agree that Russia is in violation” of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which he said is “in danger.”
Hutchison noted that “we have been trying to send a message to Russia for several years that we know they are violating the treaty.”
“We have shown Russia the evidence that we have, that they are violating the treaty. They are building a medium-range ballistic missile in violation of the INF. That is a fact which we have proven,” she said. “We have been asked by our allies to consult with them on this issue which we are going to do, which we have done, and we will be even more specific, I believe, in the next two days with the evaluations that are documented that we have uncovered from Russia’s actions on the INF Treaty in violation.”
“The United States does not want to withdraw from the treaty. We certainly don’t intend to violate the treaty. So we are asking our allies for their suggestions on a way forward that would bring Russia into compliance, because that is our goal: Russia in compliance.”
But, the ambassador continued, “If Russia continues to say they are not violating when the evidence is clear that they are, then diplomacy needs to be strengthened, and we need to look for other ways to bring Russia to the table on this issue. It’s very important.”
“We will consult with allies. They have asked that we consult. The Europeans are very concerned about this and we understand why,” Hutchison added. “We ask Russia to come into compliance because America is being very careful to stay in compliance. But there will come a point in the future in which America will determine that it has to move forward with a development phase that is not allowed by the treaty right now. That’s not imminent, but we are laying down the markers so that our allies will help us bring Russia to the table.”
Pressed on what kind of countermeasures are being considered against Russia, Hutchison replied, “The countermeasures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty.”
“So that would be the countermeasure eventually. We are trying not to do anything that would violate the treaty on our side, which allows research, but not going forward into development, and we are carefully keeping the INF Treaty requirements on our side, while Russia is violating,” she said, adding, “I think it is very important that we have the capability to deter, not only for European defense but for American defense. We have an intermediate-range risk from Russia as well.”
Hutchison explained that if Russia gets to the point of delivery capability “we would then be looking at a capability to take out a missile that could his any of our countries in Europe and hit America in Alaska.”
“So it is in all of our interests, and Canada as well, I suppose. So we have our North Atlantic risk as well as the European risk,” she said. “We are not moving in that direction right now, but we are trying to tell Russia… so I think they are on notice.”