Russia: Vladimir Putin threatens to target U.S. over missiles based in Europe

Mikhail Klimentyev  Russian Presidential Press and Information Office  TASS

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He warned USA policy-makers, "obsessed" with U.S. exceptionalism, should calculate the risks before taking any steps.

Putin, who was elected to a fourth term past year with more than 76 percent of the vote, laid out a series of new measures in his speech to Russia's two houses of parliament.

"It's their right to think how they want".

Referring to the United States, Putin said, "They are talented, for sure, but can they count?".

President Putin has promised to target the United States if American missiles are deployed to Europe following the collapse of a key arms treaty between Moscow and Washington. I believe they can.

The US has alleged since 2013 that Russian Federation has developed a new ground-launched cruise missile which violated the INF treaty that prohibits missiles with ranges between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers. Russian Federation would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

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"Let me be loud and clear, so that no one accuses us of anything and so that everyone knows what I am talking about: Russian Federation will have to design and deploy the types of weapons which could be used both against territories which pose a direct threat to us, and against the territories..."

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch - mere minutes.

But Putin, who has sometimes used bellicose rhetoric to talk up Russia's standoff with the West and to rally Russians round the flag, did not up the ante. And he also warned European countries where U.S. missiles are stationed will be targeted along with the United States itself.

He said any USA move to place new missiles in Europe would leave Moscow with no choice but to respond because it would drastically cut the time it took United States missiles to reach Russian Federation, something that would pose a direct threat.

Putin said Russian Federation is not a threat to the United States but wants "a full-fledged, equal, and friendly" relationship with the United States.

He said: "We know how to do this and we will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the corresponding threats to us become a reality".

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