Vladimir Putin Says U.S. Missiles Aren't Welcome in Europe, Claims 'Totally Independent Countries Don't Exist'

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday claimed that he believes European countries don't want to host U.S. missiles within their borders, but they are too afraid to say no to Washington.

Speaking during a press conference in the Russian seaside town of Sochi, Putin accused the U.S. of violating the sovereignty of its allies.

"Do you think that any of the European countries wants U.S. medium-range missiles to be deployed in Europe? Nobody wants this, but they prefer to keep quiet," Putin said. "Where is their sovereignty?"

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference in Sochi, Russia, on February 15. Putin claimed that he believes European countries don’t want to host U.S. missiles within their borders, but they are too afraid to say no to Washington. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Putin also went on to compare the European Union to the Soviet Union, suggesting that decisions are made in Brussels for EU member states in the same way that the communist politburo made decisions for the 15 Soviet Republics. "Totally independent countries just do not exist," Putin said.

The U.S. government recently announced that it would abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty within 180 days if Russia did not come into compliance. The U.S. and its allies in Europe have repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the treaty, which prohibits all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of about 300 to 3,500 miles.

Moscow, however, has continued to insist that it is not in violation of the treaty. The imminent demise of the treaty, which was signed in 1987, has left many U.S. allies preparing for a world in which Russia can openly deploy more nuclear-capable missile in Europe.

Contrary to Putin's claims, however, U.S. allies do appear eager to obtain U.S. support in order to protect themselves from Russian aggression. Moscow is already supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and many NATO allies argue that they too could be the victims of Russian-backed separatists movements or invasions if it weren't for the Western military alliance and U.S. support.

U.S. allies have continued to stress the importance of NATO even as President Donald Trump has questioned the value of the alliance. Most recently, the country now known as North Macedonia has taken steps to become the newest NATO member.

Poland, for example, has been vying for the U.S. to put a permanent military base in its territory. Russia's tiny neighbors Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have repeatedly called for more support from NATO and the U.S., in particular, to counter potential Russian incursions within their territory, especially as Russia has staged large war games near their borders and violated their air space.

Leaders from the Baltic States and Poland have all visited Washington over the past year to ask for more support. Meanwhile, despite disapproval from Moscow, countries like Romania have purchased missile defense systems from the U.S. to strengthen their defenses against aerial threats, particularly from the east.

Vladimir Putin Says U.S. Missiles Aren't Welcome in Europe, Claims 'Totally Independent Countries Don't Exist' | World