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    U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conduct cold weather training during NATO’s Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 in Iceland October 19, 2018. Picture taken October 19, 2018

    NATO, Russia 'Will Likely' Discuss INF Treaty Amid Bloc's War Games in Europe

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    According to the scenario, NATO's biggest-ever military exercise, Trident Juncture, will see the alliance's forces repel an attack "from the North." Moscow has branded the drills "anti-Russian" and questioned their defensive nature.

    An ambassador-level meeting of the NATO-Russia Council will be held on Wednesday in Brussels.

    The parties are expected to discuss problems related to military security, preventing dangerous incidents with the aim of decreasing military and political tensions, as well as urgent issues regarding European security.

    Andrey Kelin, a senior official within Russia's Foreign Ministry, said on Monday that the council would also likely discuss Washington's intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) with Russia.

    READ MORE: Moscow Disappointed With UNGA Vote on Russia's Draft Proposal on INF Treaty

    Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump announced that the US would "terminate" the INF treaty, claiming that Russia had not honored the agreement. He also said that China, which is not a signatory to the treaty, should also have been bound by such an agreement, and pledged that the United States would be stepping up its nuclear arsenal until Russia and China "come to their senses." Russia, in turn, denied the accusations and accused the United States of breaching the treaty, in particular, by deploying launchers for Tomahawk missiles in Romania and Poland, which it claims is prohibited under the agreement.

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko earlier indicated that Moscow would seek to expand its military contacts within the council, adding that it needs to work out mechanisms for avoiding military incidents.

    The NATO-Russia Council was established on May 28, 2002 and was effectively suspended by the alliance in 2014-2016 over the situation in Ukraine. The latest NATO-Russia Council meeting was held in late May at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

    Wednesday's meeting overlaps with Trident Juncture, the biggest NATO war games operation in history, which involves more than 50,000 troops from 30 countries. The exercise is taking place in Norway and adjacent territories, including Swedish and Finnish airspace, from October 25 to November 3, and is designed to simulate NATO's response to an attack "from the North."

    Moscow scolded the drills as "anti-Russian," stressing that the participating nations were practicing defensive and, "essentially," offensive operations both on land, at sea, in the air and in the cyberspace in a "highly intense" conflict with a comparable rival.

    "In fact, NATO military experts' latest know-hows on Russia's forceful containment will be practiced within the Trident Juncture 2018, in a climatic environment that is as much as possible similar to ours," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    The Russian military, which has significant naval forces in the North Atlantic, has notified the alliance that it would deploy four vessels to test missiles in international waters off Norway on November 1-3, which overlaps with the zone of the Trident Juncture's maritime operations.

    According to NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance is aware of Russia's exercise and plans to go ahead with its own drills. "We will of course monitor closely what Russia does, but they operate in international waters and they have notified us in the normal way."

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    Tags:
    INF, Trident Juncture, NATO-Russia Council, United States, Russia, Norway
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