More than five decades after the world came to the brink of nuclear annihilation over the deployment of Soviet nuclear weapons to Cuba, President Vladimir Putin threated that Russia is ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the United States “wants one”.
Putin’s comments follow his warning that Moscow will match any US move to deploy a missile shield closer to Russia’s border by stationing its own tactical nuclear weapons closer to the United States or by deploying faster missiles or both.
“[We’re talking about] naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles)…in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them,” Putin said, adding, “You work it out. Mach nine [the speed of the missiles] and over 1,000 kilometres (their range).”
Russia, according to Putin, could deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines which could lurk outside US territorial waters if Washington attempts to bolster the NATO alliance’s missile forces in Europe.
The reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis comes as tensions are rising again over Russian fears that the United States might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, as the landmark Cold War-era INF arms-control treaty was abruptly abandoned earlier this month by both Russia and the US.
The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October 1962 when Moscow sent ballistic nuclear missiles to Cuba in response to a US missile deployment in Turkey. The move sparked a standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war and ended when Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev – who had been politically out-manoeuvred by US President John F Kennedy after the latter successfully quarantined Fidel Castro‘s Cuba and mobilised international condemnation of the Soviet Union’s actions – opted to stand down.
Putin has frequently references Russia’s Soviet past and who has been accused of attempting to re-write history in effort to reverse the Soviet Union’s demise.