The G8 meeting is just two days away and Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown a chill into proceedings with a warning that Russia may re-target western Europe with its nuclear weapons if American missiles turn up on his doorstep.
The threat, reported in a German magazine, is Putin’s latest response to America’s missile shield programme: “We on the professional level understand that the system of missile defence on one side and the absence of such system on the other side creates the illusion of being protected and increases the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict. This is only in theory. I am not discussing it in practical terms at all”, he said on Sunday.
The project is for 10 interceptor missiles to be based in Poland, with Czech radar to track their targets. The US fears states like North Korea and Iran could one day develop the capacity to fire nuclear weapons at it. Russia insists those possible dangers are years away, and the missiles would be better sited elsewhere.