Putin warns Europe it would target countries that deploy INF missiles

Saul Bowman
October 26, 2018

NATO's top official on Wednesday blamed Russia for breaching a landmark nuclear arms pact that Washington is talking about quitting, but said he did not believe the Russian threat would lead to new deployments of US missiles in Europe. -Derek Johnson, Global ZeroThe treaty resulted in the destruction of almost 900 US missiles and more than 1,800 missiles belonging to the then-Soviet Union, as it banned the use of nuclear weapons with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles.

Bolton echoed Trump's comments days earlier, when the president cited Russian violations as sufficient reason to "terminate" the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, better known as the INF Treaty.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that allies blame Russian Federation for violating an important Cold War-era missile treaty but he does not expect them to deploy more nuclear warheads in Europe in response.

"If they are deployed in Europe, we will naturally have to respond in kind", Putin told a news conference on Wednesday, adding that in this scenario, European nations "should understand they would expose their territory to the threat of a possible retaliatory strike".

He said such an action from Europe and the U.S. would force the Russian government to act and any countries hosting United States missiles would be at risk of Russian strikes.

Speaking Tuesday, after two days of talks in Moscow, Bolton said the INF Treaty only constrains the US, as Russian Federation has violated it and China is not a party to it.

What did Mr Bolton have to say?

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov on Tuesday evening said that USA accusations about elections interference were "mentioned but not discussed", according to Interfax.

Then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF treaty in 1987.

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

During his visit to Moscow this week, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced another Trump-Putin summit will take place on Sunday, November 11 in Paris.

Trump on Monday restated his threat to pull out of the INF Treaty because of alleged Russian violations.

Associated Press President Donald Trump said his threat of increasing America's nuclear stockpile was not just directed at Russian Federation, but at China and "anybody else that wants to play that game".

Collin Koh, a maritime security specialist at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said reinstating ground-launched intermediate range missiles would give the USA a needed boost, not only for nuclear strikes but also conventional operations. "The world doesn't need a new arms race".

Why does the treaty matter for Europe?

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it posed "difficult questions for us and for Europe" because the treaty was "an important pillar of our European security architecture".

"That's being discussed right now", Trump said.

Trump's decision follows a broader push within his administration to leave worldwide compacts large and small, including the Paris climate accord, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the Universal Postal Union treaty.

The US insists that Russian Federation has a new medium-range missile called the Novator 9M729 - known to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as the SSC-8.

Russian Federation has said little about its new missile other than to deny that it is in breach of the agreement.

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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