Exclusive: Putin threatens to target Europe with missiles
June 2, 2007 at 5:34 PM EDT
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to target Europe with missiles, including potentially nuclear weapons, in a dramatic escalation of his Cold War-style showdown with the United States.
Mr. Putin, in an interview at his country residence outside Moscow, said he considers U.S. plans to build an eastern European anti-missile site to shoot down Iranian missiles a provocation aimed at Russia.
Asked what he might do to retaliate, he said he would return Russia to the Cold War status where missiles were aimed at European targets.
“It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States is located in Europe, and according to our military experts will be threatening us, we will have to respond,” he said.
Enlarge ImageRussian President Vladimir Putin poses a dilemma: Even as he has isolated Russia from the world by burning relations with allies and suppressing democracy, his popularity at home has grown. (Dmitry Astakhov/AFP)
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“What kind of steps are we going to take in response? Of course, we are going to get new targets in Europe.”
He suggested that this could include powerful nuclear-capable weapons.
“What kind of means will be used to hit the targets that our military believe are potential threats to the Russian federation? This is a purely technical issue, be it ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, or some kinds of novel weapons systems – this is a purely technical issue.”
Mr. Putin held a three-hour dinner interview with the Globe and Mail along with one newspaper from each of the G-8 nations. He defended his nation’s economic policies and tough restrictions on political dissent, repeatedly criticized the U.S. as dangerous and hypocritical, and acknowledged that Russia needs to rid itself of corruption.