Putin: Russia will target countries hosting USA intermediate-range missiles

Geraldine Edwards
October 26, 2018

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russian Federation would be forced to target any European countries that agreed to host U.S. nuclear missiles following Washington's withdrawal from a landmark Cold War-era arms control treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton, after the Kremlin said President Donald Trump's talk of quitting a decades-old Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty was risky. Under the 1987 agreement, the USA and the former Soviet Union committed to eliminate all ground-based nuclear and conventional missiles with a range 310 to 3,420 miles.

"If the United States does withdraw from the INF treaty, the main question is what they will do with these newly available missiles", Al Jazeera quoted Putin as saying.

The NATO allies are due to meet on Thursday to hear Washington explain the thinking behind President Donald Trump's move to quit the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which rid Europe of land-based nuclear missiles.

Putin said any European countries hosting US missiles would risk Russian retaliatory strikes.

"We reiterate that Russian Federation is strictly observing the clauses of the treaty", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing.

Mr Bolton, speaking to reporters after his talks with Mr Putin, said Mr Trump would like to meet the Russian president in Paris and that precise arrangements were being worked on.

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"Right now, we don't have any prospects whatsoever for a new deal", Peskov said.

The treaty was signed in 1987 by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.

Bolton gave no specific details on the next possible US steps to withdraw from the deal to limit intermediate-range nuclear weapons.

National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

National security adviser John Bolton during a White House news briefing in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2018.

Mr Trump said on Saturday: 'We've honoured the agreement, but Russian Federation has not ... so we're going to terminate the agreement.' He did not provide details on the violations.

President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a news conference in the White House, April 12, 2017. -Soviet tensions and put an end to the Cold War-era arms race. And Germany has advised against the scrapping of the treaty, saying it will be placed in a tough spot by the US abandonment.

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Mr Putin said any European countries hosting USA missiles would be at risk of Russian strikes.

Portsmouth was one of the targets on a Russian hit list for nuclear strikes in event of WW3 during the Cold War, The News revealed earlier this year.

According to Korb, declining to sign the treaty along with exiting the INF is akin to the US passing up vital opportunities to monitor Russia's activities and working together to curb nuclear competition. Republicans joined Democrats in saying the US leader appeared weak at a time he should have projected strength against an adversary.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday the increased North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military activities near Russia's western border will force it to take countermeasures.

He said negotiations on its terms could hardly take place if Russian Federation denied breaching the terms in the first place.

China has urged that the treaty be retained, prompting Mr Bolton to say he would also want it to be "if I were living in Beijing".

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