Russia’s envoy to the NATO alliance said on Friday that Moscow will bolster military forces in occupied Ukraine, and is not banned from deploying nuclear arms in Crimea.
“Everything that we do in Crimea fully complies with all obligations of the Russian Federation under international treaties. We do not violate anything, there are no prohibitions on us deploying certain weapons systems,” said Alexander Grushko, the envoy, when asked if nuclear arms would be placed in Crimea.
Grushko also declined to say whether nuclear arms currently are deployed inside the Ukrainian territory forcibly annexed by Russia in March 2014. He made the remarks in a video press conference from Moscow with reporters in Brussels, where NATO headquarters is located.
European Command spokesman Capt. Greg Hicks said Grushko’s comments were “rhetoric” and a “diatribe” that would not alter the NATO position on the issue.
“Russia has illegally occupied Crimea and attempted to annex sovereign Ukraine territory, and any attempt to deploy nuclear weapons to Crimea would be destabilizing,” he said.
A State Department official agreed. Additionally, the official said stationing nuclear arms in Crimea would “violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in breach of [Russia’s] obligations under the U.N. Charter, and to be inconsistent with Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act and the Budapest Memorandum.”
Congressional concerns about deployments of nuclear weapons in Crimea are outlined in the current defense authorization bill passed by the House this week. The bill would require the secretary of defense to notify Congress within seven days of Russia’s deployment of nuclear arms in Ukrainian territory and to outline a U.S. strategy in response.
Russian military forces have some 100 units and organizations currently in Crimea, according to state-controlled Russian press reports, described by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu as “self-sufficient” forces.
Read more: http://freebeacon.com/national-security/russia-says-it-can-deploy-nuclear-arms-to-crimea/