Russia has warned Denmark that its warships will become a target of Russian nuclear weapons if the Scandinavian nation joins NATO’s missile shield. Mikhail Vanin, the Russian ambassador to Denmark, said an interview in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten that the Danes did not fully understand the consequences of joining the missile shield.

Russia Threatens To Target Denmark's Warships With Nukes

Russia’s missiles could penetrate NATO’s defense system

The Russian ambassador’s statement comes about eight months after Copenhagen said it would participate in NATO’s missile defense system. Denmark has said it would install advanced radar systems on its warships to become an integral part of the missile shield. NATO says the missile defense system was designed to protect member nations from missile launches.

Russia has opposed the missile shield. Kremlin argues that it would dramatically reduce the effectiveness of Russian nuclear weapons, which may lead to a new Cold War-style arms race. But Vanin said that Moscow has advanced missiles that could penetrate NATO’s missile defense system. He said by joining the missile shield, Denmark would “become a part of the threat against Russia.”

According to The Copenhagen Post, Vanin said it was Denmark’s decision to join the U.S.-led missile shield, and it would damage the relations with Russia. He added that such a move would make Copenhagen “lose both money and security.” His statement drew intense criticism from Denmark and NATO.

Missile shield not aimed at Russia

Danish foreign minister Martin Lidegaard said that Vanin’s statement was unacceptable. Lidegaard said Russia knows very well that the missile shield was not aimed at them. Russia’s threats come amid rising tension across Europe, as EU leaders agreed to extend sanctions against Moscow until it complies with the Ukraine ceasefire agreement.

Last week, Denmark’s military published details of encroachments of Danish airspace. In 2014, the Danish military scrambled its F-16 squadrons 58 times to head off Russian aircraft. Moscow’s military aircraft often turn off their transponders as they approach the western Baltic to avoid being identified, but such a move could be dangerous to civilian air traffic.