The US waded into the row and also threatened Washington would pull out of the decades-old 1987 missile treaty with Russia if President Vladimir Putin does not do as instructed by the alliance and destroy the SSC-8 weapon. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CNBS today that Russia had just five weeks to scrap the system and save the treaty. He said: “We call on Russia to take the responsible path. Unfortunately, we have seen no indication that Russia intends to do so.”
He also said he would chair a meeting of NATO member defence ministers, which would also include US acting Defence Secretary Mark Esper.
The gathering would look at NATO’s next steps “in the event that Russia does not comply”, Mr Stoltenberg said.
He added: “As Russia is deploying new missiles we must ensure our deterrent is effective. This is NATO’s job.”
The same press conference saw Mr Stoltenberg outline individual country contributions to defence.
The current guideline sits at two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) but only seven of the 29 countries are expected to hit that by 2019.
These are Latvia, Poland, Romania, the UK, Estonia, Greece and the US.
The US is the biggest spender on defence and contributes around 3.5percent of its GDP towards the sector.
US President Donald Trump has long contested this.
Last week, Mr Trump accused Berlin of falling short of its NATO commitments during a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House.
But Berlin has only pledged to increase spending to 1.5 percent by that date.
Mr Trump also warned that Germany could become a “hostage of Russia” over plans for a controversial gas pipeline between the two countries.
The Republican added that he could impose sanctions in a bid to block the Nord Stream 2 which would run under the Baltic Sea sending gas from Russia to Germany.
He said: “This is something we are looking into and thinking about.”
The US accounts for more than two-thirds of NATO’s spending and although Germany has increased it defence budget it looks likely to fall short of the 1.5 percent target that Angela Merkel committed to last year.
Speaking ahead of the alliance’s 70th anniversary celebrations in Washington, Mr Trump said: “I’ll be talking about Germany, I always talk about Germany. Germany, to be honest, is not paying their fair share.”