Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Putin says Russia will target nations hosting US missiles

Published:Thursday | October 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM

MOSCOW (AP):

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned yesterday that if the United States deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will have to target the nations that would host them.

The stern statement follows US President Donald Trump's announcement over the weekend that he intends to opt out of a 1987 nuclear arms-control pact over alleged Russian violations.

Putin said he hoped the United States wouldn't follow up by positioning intermediate-range missiles in Europe. Such a move would be a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the US and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent, the Russian leader said.

"If they are deployed in Europe, we will naturally have to respond in kind," Putin said at a news conference after talks with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. "The European nations that would agree to that should understand that they would expose their territory to the threat of a possible retaliatory strike. These are obvious things."

He continued: "I don't understand why we should put Europe in such a grave danger."

"I see no reason for that," Putin said. "I would like to repeat that it's not our choice. We don't want it."

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the Western military alliance's members blame Russia for developing a new missile in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, but he doesn't expect them to beef up nuclear arsenals in Europe in response.