Russian President Vladimir Putin warned during his State of the Nation address in Moscow on Wednesday his nation will aim new hypersonic nuclear missiles at the U.S. should it deploy intermediate-range missiles in Europe.
The Russian leader said he is willing to go to the brink of another “Cuban Missile crisis” over the matter but does not wish to do so.
“Russia’s new Zircon missiles, which Putin claimed fly at nine times of the speed of sound and have a range of 620 miles, are part of its ongoing effort to upgrade its defensive capabilities against what it regards as an increasingly hostile U.S.,” Fox News reported.
Putin’s warning comes following the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by then-President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has argued the Russians have been out of compliance with the treaty for years.
Putin countered that the U.S. is falsely accusing Russia of not being in compliance in order to justify pulling out of the pact.
He further stated his nation will not be the first to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Europe but would retaliate if the U.S. does.
“We don’t want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the U.S.,” Putin said.
The Russian president later told reporters he is willing to engage in a Cuban Missile-like conflict with the U.S. over the issue but does not want to, according to Reuters.
“They (the tensions) are not a reason to ratchet up confrontation to the levels of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. In any case that’s not what we want,” Putin said. “If someone wants that, well OK they are welcome. I have set out today what that would mean. Let them count (the missile flight times).”
He indicated the means he could launch his hypersonic missile against America.
“(We’re talking about) naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles)… in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them,” Putin said.
“You work it out. Mach nine (the speed of the missiles) and over 1,000 km (their range).”
The U.S. and the Soviet Union were believed to have come as close as they ever have to global thermal-nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.
The crisis was precipitated by the Soviets deploying nuclear missiles in Cuba, which prompted the Kennedy administration to enforce a naval blockade of the island and to demand the removal of the weapons.
After 13 tense days, the Soviets backed down and agreed to take the missiles out of Cuba.
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