Putin Delivers Stark Warning To U.S. About Missile Stationing In Europe

Feb 20, 2019
Originally published on February 20, 2019 5:29 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Now to Russia, where President Vladimir Putin had a stark warning today for the United States. He said Russia would target the U.S. with a new generation of super weapons if American missiles are stationed in Europe. From Moscow, NPR's Lucian Kim reports.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: President Putin's annual State of the Nation Address started with a trumpet fanfare.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPET MUSIC)

KIM: Speaking to 1,500 invited guests in Moscow, Putin promised to focus on Russia's most pressing domestic problems.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Putin hit all the sore points bothering ordinary Russians, from the tax burden on families and faltering health care to monster garbage dumps and schools without indoor plumbing. He told Russia's army of bureaucrats that people expected real change in their lives and admonished them to show empathy instead of condescension.

But then it was time for Putin's favorite subject, geopolitics and Russia's never-ending struggle with the United States. Putin accused the U.S. of willfully abandoning the INF Treaty, which has banned medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe for more than 30 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: If those kind of missiles are now deployed in Europe, Putin said, Russia will be forced to target command centers in the U.S. with Russia's latest super weapons. In his State of the Nation speech a year ago, Putin first unveiled those weapons, which he said could travel many times the speed of sound and dodge U.S. missile defenses. He said American missiles in Europe could reach Moscow in about 10 to 12 minutes. He said Russia's hypersonic weapons could hit targets in America just as quickly.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: But Putin said Russia is only acting defensively and wants to have good, even friendly relations with the U.S. as long as they're on an equal basis. Moscow is ready for arms control talks with Washington, he said, but won't, in his words, knock on closed doors any longer. Lucian Kim, NPR News, Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.