The US is expected to formally withdraw from a nuclear missile treaty with Russia on Friday, sparking fears of a new arms race.
Moscow and Washington signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 but have in recent years increasingly accused each other of violating its terms — the agreement prohibits both countries from owning missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kms.
US President Donald Trump warned in February that the country would pull out on August 2 unless Moscow came back into compliance.
The US said it had evidence that a new Russian missile — known in Moscow as 9M729 but as SSC-8 by NATO allies — has a range of over 500kms, which Russia denies.
“They are dual-capable, they can carry nuclear weapons, they can reach European cities within minutes, they are mobile, hard to detect and they also reduce the threshold of any potential use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday about the Russian missiles.