Russia has fired a sensational threat to Donald Trump, warning the US could trigger “dramatic events across Europe” if Washington stations more missiles in the continent. Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the European Union, warned such a move risks dramatically escalating political tensions in the region, mirroring how US missile deployments in western Europe sparked protests throughout the 1980s. The latest threat comes after Donald Trump last month pulled the US out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, an arms control agreement between the US and the Soviet Union signed in 1987. This eliminated all nuclear and conventional missies, as well as their launchers, with a range of 500-1,000 kilometres (short-range) and 1,000-5,500km (intermediate range).
The US President has claimed Russia persistently breached the treaty, an accusation Moscow was quick to deny. Speaking in Brussels, Mr Chizhov warned: “So what are the next plans of the US administration after they leave the INF? “If they plan to deploy missiles in Europe, that might lead to dramatic events across Europe, including in domestic politics.”
The Russian envoy warned Europe was the biggest loser from the decision from the USA to exit the treaty, which has triggered fears across the continent of a potential new arms race. He also said any new missies deployment from the US in Europe would have a destabilizing effect even if they were conventional weapons. Moscow has already claimed non-nuclear US missile defense batteries deployed in Romania and being built in Poland violate the INF accord.
Mr Chizhov said: “It was evident in 1987 and continues to be: the big winner was Europe, because Europe was the place where American medium and shorter range missiles were deployed – and Europe was consequently the target of similar Soviet missiles.”
The EU has urged the US to “consider the consequences of the plan”.
US officials have visited European capitals to discuss the next steps, and have ruled out deploying new nuclear weapons on the continent, adding there are no plans to add conventional missiles. It is the second similar warning the US has received over the past 24 hours after Iran declared its military will protect its ships against “any threats” to ensure safe passage. The move comes as the US tries to dissuade port operators from allowing Iranian tankers to dock. Deputy commander of the regular armed forces Rear-Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi said on Monday the Iranian military is “prepared today as in the past” to protect against “any threats”. He added that “hindrances” to Iran’s right to use international waters “would be clearly unacceptable”.
US special representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to the Secretary of State Brian Hook had said last week: “From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all choke-points in between, Iranian tankers are a floating liability.”
“Self-insured Iranian tankers are a risk to the ports that permit them to dock and the canals that allow them to transit.” Mr Hook added that nations who ignore the US’ sanctions on Iran could face sanctions of their own.