WASHINGTON —Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Thursday that Russia must be held accountable for its disregard of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and its attempts to undermine the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, with NATO nations exploring ways to have a unified response.
“The current situation with Russia in blatant violation of this (INF) treaty is untenable, and we discussed this situation at length during this ministerial meeting among trusted allies,” Mattis told reporters on Thursday.
“The United States is reviewing options in our diplomacy and defense posture to do just that in concert with our allies, as always,” he said.
The United States says Russia’s 9M729 missile has violated the treaty since 2014. Moscow charges the U.S. is violating the treaty by deploying missile defenses to NATO allies.
“The United States is upholding its arms control obligations; Russia is not, and it is time now for Russia to return to compliance,” Mattis said.
On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said the U.S. could “take out” Russian missiles if the treaty continued to be violated, according to news reports.
Regarding Russia’s worldwide efforts to use cyber attacks to weaken democracies, Mattis said Moscow will “have to pay the piper, they are going to have to be held to account.
“How we respond is a political decision by the nations involved,” Mattis said after a meeting of the 29 NATO nations concluded. “We are ready today to provide cyber support to our allies; I’ve seen enough of the evidence to say that the Dutch and the British are 100 percent accurate in who they have attributed this to.”
Mattis made the comments during a news conference in Belgium. The conference was tele-linked to Pentagon reporters.
He said Russia’s attempt to attack the international organization that investigates chemical weapons use is not a surprise to anyone.
The attack “is the latest in a worldwide pattern of reckless and irresponsible behavior from Moscow,” Mattis said. “From its support to the Assad regime, which used chemical weapons against its own people [in Syria], to its use of a chemical agent on the sovereign soil of a NATO ally in the Salisbury [England] attack, to this latest hacking attempt, Russia displays blatant disregard for human life and international law.”