NATO has denied Russian claims about the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Europe and of alleged threats to Russian security. (A statement by NATO’s spokesperson.)
On April 16, 2015, RF Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke at the IV Moscow conference on international security. (The full text and video of Lavrov’s speech can be found on the site of the Russian Foreign Ministry.)
Lavrov said: “The American program of anti-missile defense remains the subject of serious concern. Ground-based missile defense systems will be deployed this year in Romania and by 2018 in Poland; also a grouping of ships with missile defense capabilities is increasing. We treat all this as a part of a global project that creates risks for Russian strategic deterrent forces and undermines the regional security balance.”
RF Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu said at the same conference that NATO-member nations are trying to move closer to Russia’s borders.
The General Staff of the Russian Federation said that NATO missiles can hit targets on the territory of Russia.
NATO responded with a statement saying that the missile defense system is not capable of shooting down Russian intercontinental missiles from positions in Romania and Poland: “NATO’s missile defense system is not designed or directed against Russia. It does not pose a threat to Russia’s strategic deterrent. Geography and physics make it impossible for the NATO system to shoot down Russian intercontinental missiles from NATO sites in Romania or Poland. Their capabilities are too limited, their planned numbers too few, and their locations too far south or too close to Russia to do so.”
Lavrov accused NATO of ongoing works to improve the system in Europe, despite of successfully concluding an agreement with Iran on the Iranian nuclear issue.
“If the implementation of the program of a global missile defense continues without any adjustments even in the conditions of progress according to the Iranian nuclear program, and NATO representatives already managed to declare this, then the incentive and motives to construct missile defense in Europe will become obvious to all,” Lavrov said. “It is clear already that when a so-called ‘adaptive’ approach to the creation of a missile defense appeared, we were told a falsehood.”
NATO claims that the missile defense system’s purpose is the protection of European allies against possible missile attacks. The recent agreements with Iran on the nuclear issue don’t remove the entire safety issue.
NATO also responded to a statement by Russia’s representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, that NATO is preparing to use nuclear weapons.
Speaking to a conference, Grushko said: “In NATO, contrary to obligations that were taken within the Non-Proliferation Treat for nuclear weapons, preparation for use of nuclear weapons in countries that aren’t nuclear states is still being carried out.”
NATO claims that it has not moved nuclear weapons into Eastern Europe and hasn’t violated international obligations.
The NATO spokesperson said: “Russia also claims that NATO is escalating tensions by holding nuclear exercises in Eastern Europe. This is untrue. At no point have we moved nuclear weapons to Eastern Europe. Furthermore, NATO’s nuclear posture is fully consistent with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Conversely, NATO has accused Russia of threatening and intimidating other countries with nuclear weapons.