Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday October 24th that Russia would be forced to target any European countries that approved hosting of US nuclear missiles in the aftermath of Washington’s retreat from a landmark Cold war-era arms control treaty.
Speaking at a news conference after holding talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Putin announced that he wanted to discuss what he called dangerous US plans to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with President Donald Trump.
According to Reuters, the two leaders are due to hold talks in Paris on November 11th.
Moscow has labelled as ‘dangerous’ Trump’s decision to quit the 1987 treaty, which removed both countries’ land-based short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Europe. Trump has accused Russia of violating the treaty, which Russia denies. It says Washington is the one violating it.
Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor John Bolton told Putin on Tuesday that Washington would press ahead with plans to quit the pact despite objections from Russia and some European countries.
Putin told reporters on Wednesday that Russia would have to respond in kind and would do so quickly if the United States quit the pact.
“Answering your question directly, can we respond,” Putin said, when asked what Russia would do if Trump made good on his promise to leave the treaty. “We can, and it will be very fast and very effective,” he said.
“If the United States does withdraw from the INF treaty, the main question is what they will do with these (intermediate-range) missiles that will once again appear,” said Putin.
“If they will deliver them to Europe, naturally our response will have to mirror this, and European countries that agree to host them, if things go that far, must understand that they are putting their own territory at risk of a possible counter-strike,” Putin added.