U.S. Is Preparing Europe for Nuclear Hit on Russia, Foreign Minister Says

Russia’s top diplomat has accused the United States of training its European allies for a tactical nuclear hit against his country.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke at a conference on disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday broadcast on Russia’s main state-run news outlets. The top diplomat, who has batted away accusations that Russia is violating arms control treaties in the past and instead stressed U.S. noncompliance, accused Washington of seeking to hold “joint nuclear missions” with non-nuclear allies.

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“As we all know, these nuclear missions violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty and non-nuclear states plan and take part in the U.S. exercises and learn how to use the nuclear weapons," he said. Russia, Lavrov argued, has not deployed nuclear arms overseas and stressed that the presence of U.S. weapons capable of being nuclear-tipped “is not only a rudiment of the Cold War but an openly aggressive position.”

02_28_Lavrov Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivers a speech at the 2018 Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2018, in Munich, Germany. The annual conference, which brings together political and defense leaders from across the globe, is taking place under heightened tensions between the U.S., together with its western allies, and Russia. Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

“It should be clear to everyone that the United States’ very own servicemen are preparing the armed forces of European countries for the utilization of tactical nuclear arms against the Russian Federation,” Lavrov argued. In a searing remark against the U.S., Lavrov also urged European citizens that they would themselves oppose U.S. attempts to deploy weapons of mass destruction on their territory, referring to America as “the only state that that has already used them against a civilian population in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Russia is persistently critical of the U.S. effort to install an anti-missile shield in Europe, arguing that its elements being stationed in Eastern Europe are an offensive move against Moscow. Meanwhile, the U.S. has also is thought to have retained around 20 nuclear warheads at a military base in Buechel, in western Germany, although the U.S. government consistently refuses to comment on the issue, Reuters has reported.

The U.S. has itself accused Russia of turning its back on arms control agreements, such as designing a missile that could undermine a marquee Cold War-era treaty to remove nuclear-capable intermediate-range missiles from Europe.