US officials say they don’t have any specific plans to send any new nuclear missiles to Europe, but the withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty seems to put them on a path to do so. That’s got Russia worried.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he wants to discuss the dangerous US pullout from the INF, and also warned that any European countries willingly hosting US nuclear missiles would be making themselves targets for the Russians.
Russia has made similar warnings in the past with respect to other US deployments, including missile defense systems targeting Russia. This has at times made such deployments unpopular domestically in those countries, though there has been no sign the US has ever been unable to put forces wherever they want so long as they can use Russia as an excuse.
That may not be the case this time, however, as some countries are already complaining about the US unilaterally pulling out of the INF. Germany in particular faulted the US for acting without considering the consequences for Europe, which does not suggest they’d be open to hosting US missiles as a result of the INF’s collapse.
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