Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, gave a stern warning to Russia in a speech at the headquarters of the organization in Belgium on Tuesday, reports Reuters.
According to Hutchinson, there is evidence that the Russian military is developing a ground-launched system which breaches a treaty from the Cold War between NATO and Russia. Such a system could allow for a nuclear strike in Europe on short notice. True to form, the Kremlin has denied that they are producing any system.
Hutchinson said that she and the U.S. government were focused on finding a diplomatic solution to the situation but should that not work, noted that a military strike would be considered.
“At that point we would be looking at the capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries. Counter measures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty. They are on notice.”
Russia has said that it is ready to have talks with the United States looking to keep the treaty alive but that it would require the United States to meet its obligations if it is expected to do the same.
This isn’t the first time that an American official has threatened to take such an action against Russia. Just one year ago, a senior official warned that the U.S. would consider a similar system to the Russian system that Hutchinson spoke about if that system was built.
The treaty in question is the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which bans medium-range missiles capable of hitting Europe or Alaska. In 2017, the State Department reported that Russia violated the obligations of that treaty and was producing the relevant missiles.
While Russia has denied the allegations, it comes after a list of grievances from the West against Putin’s regime. That largely began with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, followed by allegations of election meddling in western elections and the alleged poisoning of former Russian double agents in the UK.
Also with Hutchinson in Belgium, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mathis said that he would bring up the issue in the NATO meetings that get underway tomorrow.
“I cannot forecast where it will go, it is a decision for the president, but I can tell you that both on Capitol Hill and in the State Department there is a lot of concern about this situation and I’ll return with the advice of our allies and engage in that discussion to determine the way ahead.”