NATO chief urges action if Russian Federation drops INF treaty

Trump knows Turkey's concerns on Russian S-400 Erdogan

Acting US Secretary for Defense Mark Esper, right, greets Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar prior to a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels, June 26, 2019.

Stoltenberg said his impression was the U.S. "appreciates the progress but wants to push for more".

Turkey has said that it won't bow to U.S. ultimatums and that the S-400 purchase is a done deal.

The United States and Russian Federation suspended their obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on February 2, triggering a six-month countdown until the treaty-which has been in place since 1987-is formally voided on August 2.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference after a NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium June 26, 2019.

Esper said Washington wanted to "strengthen the alliance and to increase our readiness" and that "first and foremost of importance to the US will be more equitable and increased burden-sharing by all of our allies".

"All NATO allies strongly support the peace efforts and the best way to do that is to continue to stay committed to Afghanistan to continue to provide political support but continue to support the Afghan army and security forces with train and funding".

"Russia has done its utmost to preserve the treaty, but leaving the withdrawal of the United States without a response means sacrificing the interests of our national security", said Frants Klintsevich, a member of the Federation Council's Committee on Defense and Security.

Last week, Trump approved military retaliation for the shooting down of a USA surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz but withdrew the order at the last minute.

The United States has also accused Iran of being behind explosions that have damaged six oil tankers in the region over the past weeks.

Ahead of the meeting, Stoltenberg welcomed Washington's readiness for dialogue.

"Most partners in the room acknowledged the challenges we face", said Esper.

Washington was looking at options including broader maritime surveillance, as well as setting up a "picket-line of ships" to protect the global waterways, Esper told reporters.

"We have to flesh that out on our end and we'll see what makes most sense", Esper said. He said by the end of 2020, Allies will have added a cumulative total of well over $100 billion.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have increased since May 2018, when the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and began reinstating sanctions to force the country to renegotiate the accord.

"Russia still has an opportunity to save the INF treaty", he said, and warned that, if not, "we need to respond".

Eight member states are expected to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense this year - up from three allies in 2014, he said. "So we now have five consecutive years of growth in defense spending". "They are hard to detect".



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