Putin warns US over missiles in Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a state-of-the-nation address in Moscow, Russia, this...
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a state-of-the-nation address in Moscow, Russia, this week, where he sternly warned the United States against deploying new missiles in Europe. Photo: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia is militarily ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the United States wants one and has threatened to place hypersonic nuclear missiles on ships or submarines near US territorial waters.

The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in 1962 when Moscow responded to a US missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba, sparking a standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

More than five decades on, tensions are rising again over Russian fears the US might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, as a landmark Cold War-era arms-control treaty unravels.

Putin's comments, made to Russian media on Thursday, follow his warning that Moscow will match any US move to deploy new missiles closer to Russia by stationing its own missiles closer to the United States or by deploying faster missiles or both.

Putin detailed his warning for the first time, saying Russia could deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines outside US territorial waters if Washington moved to deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe.

"[We're talking about] naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range [of our missiles] ... in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them,'' Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

The State Department dismissed Putin's earlier warning as propaganda, saying it was designed to divert attention from what Washington alleges are Moscow's violations of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

It referred queries about Putin's latest remarks to the Pentagon, which did not immediately respond.

The INF pact bans Russia and the US from stationing short and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe. Washington announced on February 1 it would withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Moscow ended its alleged violations.

The United States does not currently have ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles that it could place in Europe but could develop and deploy them if the INF treaty collapses.

Putin said his naval response to such a move would mean Russia could strike the United States faster than US missiles deployed in Europe could hit Moscow.

Separately, Washington said it was carrying out an observation flight over Russia under the Open Skies Treaty, the first one since 2017.

In a statement, the Pentagon said an unarmed OC-135B aircraft was being used and Russia was aware of the flight.


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