Russia could aim nuclear missiles at Ukraine if the former Soviet republic joins NATO and accepts the deployment of anti-missile defenses on its territory, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, according to AP.

Speaking at a news conference with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Putin said that Ukraine`s aspirations to join NATO would restrict its sovereignty.

``That of course is Ukraine`s internal process ... and we don`t have the right, and we won`t, interfere in this process,`` Putin said. But ``that raises the question for Russia of the need for retaliatory actions.``

``It`s frightening not just to talk about this, but even to think about, that in response to such deployment, the possibility of such deployments - and one can`t theoretically exclude these deployments - that Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory,`` he said.

Yushchenko responded by saying that Ukraine has the right to form its own foreign and defense policies, and noted that the Ukrainian constitution does not allow for the deployment of foreign bases on its territory.

``You understand well that everything that Ukraine does in this direction is not in any way directed at any third country, including Russia,`` he said.