22:06 GMT04 June 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison clarified on Tuesday that she did not intend to threaten a preemptive military attack on Russia when she said earlier in the day that the United States could one day "take out" Russian missile systems that allegedly violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    "I was not talking about preemptively striking Russia. My point: Russia needs to return to INF Treaty compliance or we will need to match its capabilities to protect US & NATO interests. The current situation, with Russia in blatant violation, is untenable," Hutchison said in a Twitter post.

    During a press conference earlier on Tuesday, Hutchison said the US could employ countermeasures to "take out" missiles that Russia is allegedly developing.

    The 1987 INF Treaty prohibits the development, deployment and testing of ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. The United States and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of violating the treaty.

    READ MORE: US Decisions on START Treaty Will Depend on Russia's Actions — State Department

    "We are not moving in that direction right now, but we are trying to tell Russia… that we know they have violated the treaty and we are beginning the research capabilities that are allowed by the treaty to deter a medium-range ballistic missile. So I think they are on notice," Hutchison said during the press conference earlier on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on the statement, that Moscow did not pay great attention to the remarks made by the envoys since it had enough uncertainties with high-ranking politicians.

    "[The Kremlin] prefers not to pay extra attention to statements by ambassadors while we have too many uncertainties with the messages on the higher level," Peskov told the CNN broadcaster.

    Also, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Hutchison should realize the danger of her aggressive rhetoric.

    Earlier on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russian to be more transparent and explain its alleged violations of the INF Treaty.

    Inter-missile launch from Sary Shagan testing ground. Still frame taken from a video courtesy of the Russian Defense Ministry
    © Photo : Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
    Stoltenberg said the United States has shared information with NATO that Moscow started deploying ground-based cruise missiles 9M729 (NATO designation SSC-8) allegedly in violation of the INF treaty.

    READ MORE: Observers Explain Three Reasons Behind NATO's Push for Macedonia Admission

    Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that the 9M729 missiles correspond to Russia's obligations under the INF Treaty and have not been upgraded and tested for the prohibited range. Moscow pointed out that the United States has provided no proof that Russia has in fact violated the treaty by deploying the missiles.

    Earlier, in May, US President Donald Trump issued a memo ordering State Secretary Mike Pompeo to propose sanctions on Russia in response to alleged violations of the INF Treaty. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the matter, said that Russia had never violated the treaty, adheres to its obligations and intends to continue doing so.


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    capabilities, violation, NATO, Russian Foreign Ministry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Mike Pompeo, Maria Zakharova, Jens Stoltenberg, Sergei Lavrov, United States, Russia
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