Putin warns of strong retaliation against the US missile shield defense systems in Eastern Europe
Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin says he will respond to the defensive missile system the United States and its partners are building in Eastern Europe, because it threatens Russia’s security.
The Russian president said strong “counter-measures” will be enacted to the NATO deployment, and he emphasized that his country is reacting to the Western action, not making the first move in a confrontation.
Speaking to reporters in Athens, where he met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Friday, Putin also ruled out any discussions about the status of Crimea, the former Ukrainian territory that Russia has annexed.
“This question is closed forever,” the Russian leader said.
There was no immediate U.S. response to the comments by Putin, who remained in Greece Saturday, touring Mount Athos, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites.
On the missile defense system planned for deployment in Poland and Romania, Putin said: “NATO fends us off with vague statements that this is no threat to Russia.”
Recalling the stated purpose of the missile system as a “preventive measure” against possible hostile action by Iran, Putin said that threat “does not exist,” particularly in the aftermath of the nuclear agreement the United States and other Western powers reached with Tehran last year.
Putin said Russia will take strong measures in the interest of its security vis-à-vis the missile deployments, but he
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