US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter is meeting with US security officials stationed in Europe on Friday to discuss the possibility of missile deployment in Europe as part of a reaction to Russian aggression.
The missile deployment, known as the “counterforce” policy, has been considered as a US response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian militants in the region. The policy includes sanctions as well as possible missile deployment in G7 countries.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Sowers said that “all the options under consideration are designed to ensure that Russia gains no significant military advantage from their violation.”
A US senior defense official said that Defence Secretary Carter “believes very strongly that the economic sanctions are the most important part of putting leverage on Russia right now."
In April, Carter’s aide Robert Scher said that through the “counterforce” policy the US “could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia.”
Carter "believes very strongly that the economic sanctions are the most important part of putting leverage on Russia right now," a senior defense official told reporters en route to Stuttgart on Thursday.
In February, Carter said that Russia might violate the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, through testing “ground-launched cruise missiles” in areas which have been prohibited by the INF.
Afterwards, Russia rejected the accusation, saying the US has been the one violating the INF by erecting missile shields in Europe.
The leaders of the G7 - the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada - which used to be the G8 along with Russia, held a summit last year in Rome without Russian President Vladimir Putin, as a protest against Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
G7 leaders are to meet on June 7-8 in Bavaria to discuss important issues, especially Russian activities in the eastern Ukraine.
The US plan to respond to Russia in case it violates INF has three steps. In the first step, the US will try to stop Russia from deploying missiles under treaty-protected areas. If Russia continues with deployment, US also deploy missiles in Europe under the “counterforce” project. Afterwards, the use of nuclear forces will be a possibility to prevent Russia from breaking the INF.