Russia Warns US Buildup Risks Repeat of Cuban Missile Crisis

Deputy FM warns US deployment of missiles would escalate the crisis

The US withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty is raising concerns in Russia that it would lead to the deployment of land-based US missiles along their borders in Eastern Europe. Russian officials warn this could create a crisis comparable to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

This is not a totally unfounded concern. The INF treaty’s dissolution, and the expansion of NATO all the way to Russia’s border indeed would create such a possibility. Russian officials have made clear they would respond to try to maintain deterrence, and prevent NATO having an overwhelming nuclear advantage. Though there are no formal plans for such deployments by NATO announced publicly yet, the Eastern European members are overwhelmingly hostile to Russia, and would endorse such deployments.

Russian Deputy FM Sergei Ryabkov warned that such a deployment meant the situation “won’t just get more complicated, it will escalate right to the limit,” saying it would be worse that nuclear scares of the 1980s and comparable to the Cuban crisis, generally believed to be the closest the nations came to a nuclear exchange during the Cold War.

This could be particularly dangerous at this time, as US-Russia relations are at what some officials are calling an all-time low, and there is an extreme lack of diplomatic engagement of the sort that could prevent this sort of dangerous escalation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.