Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Poland and Romania could find themselves in Russia’s “cross-hairs” if they go along with the installation of U.S. missile defense systems in their respective territories.
A NATO missile-defense system was installed in Romania earlier this month, and will be operated by American soldiers. Russia considers the installations a threat to the strategic balance of the region.
“If yesterday in those areas of Romania people simply did not know what it means to be in the cross-hairs, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security,” Putin said at a press conference in Greece on Friday, Reuters reports.
“It will be the same case with Poland,” Putin said, where construction on a U.S. missile-defense system began earlier this month.
Putin said that any actions taken by Russia would be defensive.
“We won’t take any action until we see rockets in areas that neighbor us,” he said.
The ostensible reason for the missile-defense system, which was to protect European countries from ballistic missiles from Iran and other rogue states, was nonsensical, Putin added. A nuclear deal has already been brokered with the Middle Eastern country, meaning it is unnecessary, he argued.
He said the missiles from the defense system could easily reach Russian cities. But NATO said the missiles could not be used offensively as they don’t have explosives and were created to merely “punch” targets out of the sky.
“Any threats from Russia are unjustified and irresponsible,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, reported CNN. “Russia knows full well that our Ballistic Missile Defense system is defensive and neither designed nor directed against Russia.”
Putin did not specify what actions Russia would take.
“We’ve been repeating like a mantra that we will be forced to respond… Nobody wants to hear us. Nobody wants to conduct negotiations with us,” he said.