Nato chief expresses ‘serious concern for the alliance’ if Russian missile reports prove true

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says ‘compliance with arms control agreements is of great importance and especially when it comes to treaties covering nuclear weapons’

Nato’s chief has said the military alliance would be concerned if reports that Russia has violated a Cold War-era treaty by deploying a cruise missile prove true.

US intelligence agencies have assessed that the ground-launched cruise missile became operational late last year, possibly violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on the development and testing of cruise missiles.

The treaty bans American and Russian intermediate-range missiles based on land.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “compliance with arms control agreements is of great importance and especially when it comes to treaties covering nuclear weapons.”

He said “any non-compliance of Russia with the INF Treaty would be a serious concern for the alliance.”

His remarks in Brussels came before chairing the first meeting of Nato defence ministers with US Defence Secretary James Mattis.

On Tuesday, the New York Times said US officials had said the Russians have two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile. One is still located at Russia’s missile test site at Kapustin Yar in the country’s southeast, the paper reported.

he latest report came as the Trump administration is dealing with the impact of the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The former general was obliged to stand down after he misled officials about the details of a telephone conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador to the US before Mr Trump took office.

A month ago, the acting attorney general told Mr Trump’s senior officials that Mr Flynn may be vulnerable to blackmail as a result of the conversation.