Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is warning that Washington's plans to withdraw from a decades-old nuclear arms agreement will have "serious consequences" for Europe.
Shoigu told his visiting Greek counterpart on October 29 that the European Union and NATO should weigh the consequences of a U.S. exit from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union.
"It seems to us that not everybody in Europe understands that this decision will have serious consequences for Europe either, and to put it more accurately, for Europe in the first place," Shoigu said.
Shoigu's statement follows a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin last week that Russia would target any NATO member countries if the United States withdraws from the treaty and puts currently banned intermediate-range missiles in those countries -- something NATO has said is not currently being contemplated.
U.S. President Donald Trump, in declaring his intention to withdraw from the pact, cited alleged Russian violations since 2014 and concern that China is not covered by its ban on ground-launched short- and intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles.
Russia has denied violating the treaty and has maintained that some aspects of the U.S. missile-defense system in Europe violate the agreement.
In the days since Trump announced his intent to abandon the pact, Russia has called for a return to dialogue over the treaty to address complaints on both sides.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on October 28 that Moscow is drafting answers to a list of questions the United States has drawn up about Russian compliance with the treaty.