Thursday, 22 August 2019

Chinese missiles are threat to Russia, German Defence Minister warns

Damir Sagolj / Reuters file

BERLIN: In the wake of a US decision to unilaterally pull out of the INF Treaty, the Chinese Foreign Ministry voiced strong opposition to the move, as well as the expansion in the number of parties to the 1987 agreement.

In an interview with Focus, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that China’s medium-range missiles can reach Russia.

When asked if the existing Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty could still be saved after the US and Russia traded accusations of violating the agreement and whether China could be included in it, von der Leyen suggested that Moscow may have an interest in including Beijing in “some sort of disarmament treaty”:

“Because just as the Russian rockets are a threat to Europe, so are the Chinese for Russia”.

Other German officials previously voiced their concerns over the collapse of the INF Treaty, with Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier not ruling out a new arms race between the US and Russia.

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine also cited Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member Roderich Kiesewetter and Rolf Mutzenich from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) as saying that Russia’s new 9M729 missiles should be moved to the “other side of the Ural Mountains so that they cannot reach Europe”.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, meanwhile, said in December that Berlin would oppose the deployment of new medium-range missile in Europe in the event of the INF’s demise.

“Europe must under no circumstances become a platform for an arms race debate. The deployment of new medium-range missiles would encounter broad opposition in Germany”, he told the news agency DPA.

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