Putin: Europe is Exposing Itself to Retaliation If It Agrees to Deploy US Missiles
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the Europeans will be caught in the crosshairs of any potential conflict between the US and Russia if they agree to host US missiles.
Putin outlined the scenario in which the US moves to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces [INF] Treaty and decides to place nuclear missiles at Russia's doorstep.
The INF, which came into force in 1988, prohibits the development, production and deployment of land-based and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.
"If they are deployed in Europe, we will naturally have to respond in kind," Putin told a news conference on Wednesday, adding that in that case European nations "should understand they would expose their territory to the threat of a possible retaliatory strike."
He further noted that he would not like to see a nuclear build-up in Europe as it will put the continent itself in a vulnerable position.
"I don't understand why we should put Europe in such a grave danger," he said. While Russia would not like to see this turn of events, it would be forced to respond in kind.
"I would like to repeat that it's not our choice. We don't want it," Putin said.
Moscow’s warning comes on the heels of US National Security Adviser John Bolton's visit to the country. Bolton reaffirmed US President Donald Trump's intent to pull out from the INF treaty, which has been one of the main pillars of European security architecture for 30 years.
The US claims that Russia is violating the INF by building missiles it prohibits. Moscow refutes these allegations and argues that it is the US which has been non-compliant as it can repurpose the missile defense complexes stationed in Europe and use them as offensive launchers.
Meanwhile, France, Germany and China have cautioned Trump against dismantling the deal, warning that it would harm security across the entire globe.
Moscow, for its part, said that the US would effectively unleash a new arms race if it unilaterally quits the agreement.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team