NATO: Russia must release Ukrainian vessels, sailors
Brussels: The head of NATO said on Monday that Russia needed to take immediate action in order to comply with a 1987 arms agreement aimed at eliminating intermediate and shorter-range missiles and asked it to release Ukrainian sailors and ships amid tensions between Moscow and Kiev.
Speaking to the press ahead of a two-day foreign ministers meeting set to take place in Brussels from Tuesday, Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had put the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) treaty, which got rid of “an entire category of weapons”, in jeopardy.
“Russia has developed, produced and deployed a new missile,” Stoltenberg was cited as saying by Efe news. “It is mobile and hard to detect. It is nuclear capable. And it could reach European cities, with little or no warning.”
“Russia must take immediate steps to ensure full compliance with the INF Treaty. In a transparent and verifiable way,” he added.
Stoltenberg said the alliance was a “strong advocate for arms control” because it made the world safer. He touched on the recent escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine after Russian forces seized three Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait and detained sailors.
“Russia must release the Ukrainian sailors and ships,” he said, adding that Ukrainian military and civilian vessels “have the right to navigate through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov”.
Stoltenberg said NATO sought dialogue with Russia and wanted to improve relations. “But to make this possible, Russia must fully comply with its international commitments,” he added.