Putin: We'll target US if Washington deploys missiles in Europe

Russia will respond to any deployment of intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe by targeting not only the countries where those missiles are stationed, but the United States itself, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. In his annual address to parliament, Putin said Russia was not seeking confrontation and would not take the first step to deploy missiles in response to the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. But he said that Russia’s reaction to any deployment would be resolute and that US policy-makers should calculate the risks before taking any steps.  

“It’s their right to think how they want. But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing,” Putin told Russia’s political elite to strong applause. “Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” he said. “These weapons, by their tactical and technical specifications, including their flight time to the command centers I’m talking about, will fully correspond to the threats that will be directed against Russia.”

Russian nuclear missiles already target the United States and vice versa.

Alleging Russian violations, Washington said this month it was suspending its obligations under the 1987 INF and starting the process of quitting it, untying its hands to develop new missiles. The pact banned either side from stationing short and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe and its demise raises the prospect of a new arms race between Washington and Moscow, which denies flouting the treaty.

In his speech, Putin said that a submarine capable of carrying a new underwater drone with nuclear strike capability, which is called Poseidon, would be launched this spring, and also spoke of the successful development of a new hypersonic missile called Tsirkon.

Putin said Russia wanted good ties with the United States, but was ready with its defensive response if necessary.

“We know how to do this and we will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the corresponding threats to us become a reality.”

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