Moscow denies they are developing a medium-range ground-launched system in violation of the Cold War era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
But should the alleged system become operational, "At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries," Hutchison told reporters, referring to European allies of the US. "Countermeasures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty."
International relations and security analyst Mark Sleboda didn't mince words when analyzing the envoy's remarks in an interview with Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear. Hutchison "just threatened a preemptive attack on Russia. That's what she did today, and she said it twice — she doubled down on it," he said.
— Ambassador Hutchison (@USAmbNATO) October 2, 2018
After widespread scrutiny of her comment on a preemptive strike, Hutchison took to Twitter to deny that she had threatened any such thing. "I was not talking about preemptively striking Russia," she said. It is difficult to imagine how else a threat to destroy a missile system before it's up and running can be characterized, however.
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) October 2, 2018
Sleboda pointed out that Russia has accused the US of being in violation of the very same treaty. Russia, however, has "good grounds" for the allegation, Sleboda said.
"As far as the INF Treaty is concerned, the situation is evident in which the United States and some of its allies are knowingly violating it, in particular by deploying on their territories the Mk-41 launching systems capable of firing the ground-based cruise missiles," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in August.
"A preemptive attack on Russia would of course be met with a full-range attack back," Sleboda said, underscoring the catastrophic potential for a hot war between the two nuclear powers. "The statements are so ludicrously apocalyptic that I'm afraid it is impossible really to take them seriously," he added.
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) October 3, 2018
"Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he prefers — the Kremlin prefers — not to focus too much on the rhetoric of ambassadors when at the current moment there's so much uncertainty regarding messages coming from the higher level, meaning of course Trump's tweets and the bombastic nature of them," Sleboda said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Hutchison should realize the danger of her aggressive rhetoric, Sputnik News reported.