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How Donald Trump intends ‘to make America great again’: first speech to congress analysed

The President unveils a highly interventionist economic programme envisaging re-industrialisation on the back of higher infrastructure spending, trade protection and tax reform, with immigration controls to ensure that the benefits in more jobs and higher wages go to American workers.

Alexander Mercouris

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President Trump’s first speech to Congress has received generally favourable reviews from all but his most relentless critics, with the speech referred to as “conventional” and “Presidential” in contrast to his Inaugural Address.

The speech was indeed more conventional because unlike the Inaugural Address Donald Trump this took time took care to sugarcoat his speech with the standard cliches and bromides the US elite expects in speeches from the President.  Thus whereas the Inaugural Address never once mentioned “freedom” – a shocking omission – the Speech to the Congress did so repeatedly.

It was the omission of the standard cliches and bromides which made the Inaugural Address seem to the US elite so stark and disturbing.  By contrast by clothing his Speech to the Congress with the usual bromides and cliches Donald Trump reassured the Congress and won for himself a polite hearing.

This may be because Donald Trump has got himself a better speechwriter (his careful delivery shows the speech was carefully rehearsed) but a more likely reason is that Trump was addressing a different audience and varied his speech accordingly.

The Inaugural Address was pitched to the American people who had elected him whereas the Speech to the Congress was pitched to the Congress itself – first and foremost to his own party – whose cooperation Trump will need to carry out what is by any assessment a startlingly ambitious programme for his Presidency.

The result is that the Speech to the Congress is seen as more conventional though in reality Donald Trump did not retreat an inch from what is in every respect a radical programme.

The Speech to the Congress covered both domestic and foreign policy.  For reasons of space in this article I will concentrate exclusively on what Donald Trump had to say about domestic policy.  I will discuss what he said about foreign policy in another article.

Firstly, though the Inaugural Address has been criticised as offering a dark dystopian picture of today’s America, the Speech to the Congress was in reality no different.

 Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.  Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.  More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working.  We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.  In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined.  We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.  Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.  And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters…..

……to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.  The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.  In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone — and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.  This is not acceptable in our society.

Similarly, though the Inaugural Address has been criticised for setting the American people, against the elite, the Speech to the Congress not only did so again – expressly repudiating the policies of the recent past – but it actually went further, talking of Trump’s election victory as a “rebellion” of the common people against the elite.

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future. For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries. We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land. We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate. And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds — families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns. But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country. Finally, the chorus became an earthquake — and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

(bold italics added)

My colleague Adam Garrie has often spoken of Donald Trump as a classic conservative in the mould of Senator Robert Taft and there are indeed throwbacks to a more conservative past in Donald Trump’s outlook on foreign policy.

Trump’s approach to domestic politics is, however, anything but conservative. On the contrary with his talk of “rebellion” and his criticism of the elite (the Speech to the Congress used the words “drain the swamp of government corruption” once again) Donald Trump is positioning himself on domestic policy as a flamboyant Progressive like his Republican predecessor Theodore Roosevelt rather than as a true conservative like Robert Taft.

As might be expected of someone with such an outlook Trump’s ideas for domestic policy are highly interventionist and essentially ‘Big Government’ and even paternalist.

Thus his demand for tougher immigration (including the border wall) is squarely linked to a demand for more jobs and higher wages as well as in order to fight crime.

At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone…..Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers. Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others — have a merit-based immigration system.

It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year. Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class. I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.

(bold italics added)

Trump also wants a massive plan for $1 trillion investment programme in US infrastructure, whilst pointedly drawing attention to the fact that the last time the US government initiated a major infrastructure programme was back in the 1950s under President Eisenhower.

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program — the building of the interstate highway system. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding. America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country — twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate. To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs. This effort will be guided by two core principles: Buy American, and Hire American.

(bold italics added)

The reference to “Buy American, and Hire American” shows that the infrastructure programme is as much intended to boost US employment and US industry as it is to improve US infrastructure. In other words it is as much as anything a job creation public works programme, just like the ones of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

This comes with a frank repudiation of globalist free trade orthodoxies, about which Trump had a great deal to say.

We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers. Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing. I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson. In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business? They said that it’s good. I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales. They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate.

They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent. They weren’t even asking for change. But I am. I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE. The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.” Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore. I am going to bring back millions of jobs.

Even the cuts in taxes Trump is talking about are clearly pitched at achieving his programme of industrial regeneration.

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world. My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

Even on health and education, where Trump is closest to classic Republican positions, he is far from being a non-interventionist conservative. For example, his criticism of Obamacare is not that it takes the government into area (health policy) where it has no place, but that it is inefficient and expensive and isn’t working

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do. Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing.

One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges — leaving many Americans with no choice at all. Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan? We now know that all of those promises have been broken. Obamacare is collapsing — and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice — it is a necessity. So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.

Trump’s solution to the US’s health care crisis is a mix of platitudes and fudging around the edges which could very well end up making the present disastrous situation worse, but it does not amount to the government pulling out and doing nothing and leaving it to the unregulated market to do its work.

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans: First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges. Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts — but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out. Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance — and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.

Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines — creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care. Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.

Overall Trump has a coherent vision of how he wants to lead America. He wants a re-industrialisation programme fuelled by tax changes and a big increase in infrastructure spending, whilst looking for caps on imports and immigration to ensure that the benefits in jobs and higher wages go to American workers. It is the sort of programme that the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson might easily have come up with.

It is easy to see where it could all go wrong.

As Trump says himself it is decades since the US engaged in a public works programme on anything like the scale that he envisions. It is far from clear whether the US today has the management skills for such a programme (the Hurricane Katrina debacle suggests not) and with Trump apparently intending that most of the work will be done by private companies it is easy to see how it could all end in burgeoning corrupting, with the building of roads that go nowhere and of bridges in the wrong places, much as has happening with the spending from the EU’s structural funds in much of Europe.

More seriously, Trump is proposing to cut taxes whilst hugely increasing spending on infrastructure and the military. He does not say how he proposes to pay for all this. Indeed his speech had nothing to say about the budget at all.

Cutting the overseas aid budget and spending on the State Department is hardly going to make up the numbers. Presumably Trump is hoping that the higher growth from his policies will lead to higher tax revenues which will cover the cost of his infrastructure and defence programmes.

It might turn out right, but it is a big gamble at a time when the US’s debt to GDP ratio is already above 100%, and speaking for myself I can’t help but worry that the US’s budget deficit and its level of debt will probably be even higher at the end of the Trump administration than they are now.

There also has to be a serious concern that if the slack in the economy is less than Donald Trump supposes – with fewer workers willing to work than he imagines, and with US industry unable to produce the goods he wants it to – it could all lead to a big rise in inflation. In that case the Federal Reserve Board may feel obliged to raise interest rates sharply, bringing the whole economy – and Trump’s programme – to a juddering stop.

The President has nonetheless unveiled a clear vision, even if the devil will be in the detail, and even if it is easy to see how things could go wrong. Certainly his speech cannot be criticised for being content free.

It also a highly ambitious vision. Even if all goes well Donald Trump will certainly need more than one term to see it all through.

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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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