- 19:10 ET, Dec 13 2021
- Updated: 7:34 ET, Dec 14 2021
RUSSIA has threatened to deploy intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe, as tensions over Ukraine intensify.
The warning from the country’s foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov comes amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, where the Kremlin has massed 175,000 troops.
Vladimir Putin has been warned of “massive consequences” if he invades Ukraine as Russia masses troops on its neighbour’s border.
Ryabkov has now threatened to revive Intermediate-range nuclear missiles, deployed in large numbers by both sides in the Cold War in the early 1980s.
He denied Russia was planning to invade Ukraine said Moscow would “respond militarily” if Nato sought to expand eastwards.
Speaking to the state-run RIA Novost he warned “there will be confrontation, this will be the next step” and previously banned weapons “will appear from our side”.
“They don’t exist now, we have a unilateral moratorium,” he added.
When they were first deployed, the missiles brought the cities of Europe into much closer striking range, adding an even more terrifying dimension to the nuclear arms race.
But a historic treaty signed between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan eventually saw the two sides destroy nearly 2,700 of them.
America withdrew from the pact in 2019 after complaining for years of alleged violations revolving around Russia’s development of a ground-launched cruise missile.
US intelligence recently detected Russian troops on the border with Ukraine as fears of a potential invasion in early 2022 are mounting.
The rising tensions have prompted the G7 group of Western nations – meeting in Liverpool – to issue a warning to Russia.
“Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” the group said in statement.
“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the right of any sovereign state to determine its own future.”
Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace recently said the UK was ready to use force to help defend Ukraine.
What is happening between Russia and Ukraine?
RUSSIA and the Ukraine have remained technically at war since 2014
Ukraine was aligned with Russia as part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, following which it became an independent state.
Both nations remained closely tied – but Ukraine gradually began to distance itself, seeking deeper ties with the West.
The open conflict was triggered by the Ukrainian Revolution in 2014 – when an uprising overthrew the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
Vladimir Putin’s forces reacted by annexing the region of Crimea from Ukraine – a move which was widely condemned by the West.
The conflict then spiralled when pro-Russian groups in Eastern Ukraine then took up arms against the state.
Russia gave their backing the separatist forces which formed breakaway republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Putin’s forces then launched a military incursion into these regions as they gave their support to the rebels.
Russia continues to hold Crimea – and claims the region joined them willingly after they a referendum.
Seven years have now passed and the War in Donbass remains at a stalemate.
It is estimated some 14,000 have been killed in the conflict, including more than 3,0o0 civilians.
Ukraine and the rebels signed a new ceasefire in July 2020 – but clashes have been steadily increasing again throughout 2021.
Russia has denied that it plans to attack Ukraine and condemned the G7 warning.
“Russia has made numerous offers to NATO on ways to decrease tensions,” its UK embassy said.
“The G7 forum could be an opportunity to discuss them, but so far we hear nothing but aggressive slogans.”
Kiev’s allies have always pledged to support them, but intervening against Russia could risk spiralling into a conflict that could explode into World War 3.
Russia has been demanded Ukraine not join NATO and raged that the US must stop all military activity in the region.
Joe Biden has held a high-stakes two hours call with Vladimir Putin in a bid to de-escalate tensions – with the US President threatening sanctions over the situation at Russia’s border.
According to US officials, Biden told Putin there would be “clear and decisive” consequences in case of an invasion.
US military experts visit Ukraine to help developing air defence amid high tensions with Russia