President Vladimir Putin’s warnings to NATO allies are “unacceptable” and do not help efforts to calm tensions, the alliance said on Friday, a day after the Russian leader announced an array of new nuclear weapons.
In his address to the nation on Thursday, Putin that any attack on Moscow’s allies would be regarded as an attack on Russia itself and draw an immediate response, according to Reuters.
While it was unclear which ally Putin had in mind, the U.S.-led NATO said the speech, one of the Russian leader’s most bellicose in years, did not help calm tensions that have surged since Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimea four years ago.
“Russian statements threatening to target allies are unacceptable and counterproductive,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a statement.
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“We do not want a new Cold War or a new arms race,” Lungescu said. “All allies support arms control agreements which build trust and confidence, for everyone’s benefit.”
One particular sore point for Moscow is NATO’s U.S.-built missile defense umbrella across Spain, Poland and Romania, which the alliance says is designed to shoot down Iranian rockets.
“As we have repeatedly made clear, the alliance’s missile defense is neither designed nor directed against Russia. Our system defends against ballistic missiles from outside the Euro-Atlantic area,” Lungescu said, in reference to the Middle East and further afield.
“NATO is pursuing a twin-track approach to Russia: strong deterrence and defense, combined with meaningful dialogue. We are committed to delivering on both tracks,” Lungescu said.