Putin: Russia ready for new Cuban Missile Crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is prepared for a new crisis like the Cuban Missile Crisis if the US wants to create it, and threatened to deploy hypersonic nuclear weapons on ships and submarines close to American territorial waters. 

The Cuban Missile Crisis, known in Russia as the Caribbean Crisis, took place in 1962, when the US deployed nuclear missiles in Turkey, and Moscow responded by deploying missiles in Cuba, leading to a 13-day confrontation that put the world on the brink of nuclear war. 

More than fifty years later, tensions between the two nuclear powers are on the rise once again. Russia fears that the US plans to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, at a time when the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is falling apart. 

On Wednesday, Putin warned that if Washington deploys new missiles close to the Russian border, Russia will deploy its own missiles close to the US. 

In a later discussion with Russian reporters, Putin clarified some of the details of his threats, noting that Russia would deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines close to the US’s territorial waters if Washington deploys intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe. 

“These are sea carriers – submarines or above-water ships. And they can be dispatched at such speeds and at such distances… to neutral waters, simply in the ocean,” the Russian president said. “Plus, they are not in territories, they are moving, and they still need to be detected… You work it out: 1,000 kilometers at Mach 9.” 

Analyst Kingston Reif from the Arms Control Association believes that Putin may be trying to show that Russia can keep up with the US in order to divert attention away from internal problems or to shift the blame for the failure of the INF Treaty. 

“He may also be trying to send the message that, look, neither side should want this world (of a new arms race) so we should sit down and resume discussions,” the expert observed. 

Putin has emphasized that Russia does not want a new arms race, but would have no choice if Washington deploys new missiles in Europe, some of which could strike Moscow in 10-12 minutes. 

At present, the US has no intermediate-range nuclear missiles that could be deployed in Europe, but they could be developed and deployed later if the INF Treaty cannot be rescued. 

Putin said that Russia could attack the US faster than the American missiles deployed in Europe could hit Moscow, because the Russian missiles have a shorter flight time. 

“10-12 minutes is the flight time to Moscow, and how long will it be to the decision-making centers that are creating certain threats for us?” he asked. “It will not be in their favor, at least as things stand today.” 

“There are reciprocal claims, different approaches to dealing with problems… but this is no reason to escalate the matter to confrontation on the level of the Caribbean Crisis of the 1960s,” Putin said. “If someone wants that, they are welcome to it. I have spelled out today what it would mean. Let them calculate.”

  Russia, Putin, INF Treaty, USA, Trump

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