Russian president Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Russia would target the U.S. if America deploys missiles in Europe.
“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” Putin said in his annual state-of-the-nation address.
“It’s their right to think how they want. But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing,” he added.
The warning comes after the U.S. pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty earlier this month, asserting that Russia had violated the agreement, which bans medium-range ground-launched missiles with a range of 310 to 3,400 miles. Russia denied that charge, and pulled out of the agreement while accusing the U.S. of violating it.
Putin stressed that Russia would not make the first move to deploy intermediate-range missiles after the dissolution of the Cold War-era treaty, and would only aim its new hypersonic missiles at America if the U.S. deployed missiles in nearby European countries. The Russian president claimed the new Zircon missiles can be shot up to 620 miles and fly at about nine times the speed of sound.
“We don’t want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the U.S.,” Putin said.