Rus­sian PM Putin warns West over mis­sile de­fence

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

MOSCOW: Prime Min­is­ter Vladimir Putin told CNN tele­vi­sion Rus­sia would de­ploy nu­clear weapons and "strike forces" if it were shut out of a Western mis­sile shield, adding punch to a warn­ing from Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev.

In an in­ter­view with Larry King taped Tues­day, Putin said the Wik­iLeaks scan­dal was "no catas­tro­phe" and warned the United States not to med­dle with Rus­sian elec­tions.

He also warned of the "colos­sal dan­ger of an es­ca­la­tion" in ten­sions on the Korean Penin­sula and urged Iran to open its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties to U.N. scru­tiny.

Putin said mis­sile threats against Europe must be tack­led jointly-a ref­er­ence to an agree­ment reached at a Novem­ber 20 Rus­sia-NATO sum­mit to co­op­er­ate on mis­sile de­fense. Plans are sketchy and Rus­sia has warned it wants an equal role.

If Rus­sia's pro­pos­als are re­jected and Western mis­sile de­fense in­stal­la­tions cre­ate "ad­di­tional threats" near its bor­ders, "Rus­sia will have to en­sure its own se­cu­rity," he said.

Rus­sia would "put in place new strike forces ... against the new threats which will have been cre­ated along our bor­ders," he said, ac­cord­ing to a trans­la­tion in an ex­cerpt on CNN's web­site. "New mis­sile, nu­clear tech­nolo­gies will be put in place."

Putin said Rus­sia was not threat­en­ing the West. But the re­marks un­der­scored the Krem­lin's in­sis­tence on main­tain­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in a mis­sile de­fense sys­tem and sug­gested im­prov­ing ties could sour again if agree­ment is not reached.

In his state of the nation ad­dress on Tues­day, Medvedev warned that a new arms race would erupt if U.S. and NATO of­fers of co­op­er­a­tion on mis­sile de­fense failed to pro­duce a con­crete agree­ment within a decade.

"That's not our choice, we don't want that to hap­pen. This is no threat on our part, Putin said. "We've been sim­ply say­ing that this is what all of us ex­pect to hap­pen if we don't agree on a joint ef­fort there."

U.S. plans for a mis­sile shield have been a ma­jor ir­ri­tant in its ties with Moscow since the Cold War. Now both Rus­sia and the West are cast­ing mis­sile de­fense co­op­er­a­tion as a cru­cial in­gre­di­ent in recipes to bring the for­mer foes closer.

As part of a cam­paign to "re­set" strained re­la­tions with Moscow, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama last year scrapped Bush-era plans for radar and in­ter­cep­tor mis­siles in east­ern Europe that Rus­sia said would be a ma­jor threat to its se­cu­rity. "We are thank­ful to him for the fact that he has soft­ened the rhetoric in U.S.-Rus­sia re­la­tions," Putin said.

Rus­sia has been far more ac­cept­ing of Obama's re­vised blue­print, which in­volves shorter-range in­ter­cep­tors. But Putin sug­gested Rus­sia would feel threat­ened if the United States pushes ahead with­out sig­nif­i­cant Rus­sian in­put and warned against any ac­tions of "a very dumb na­ture" that would ig­nore Rus­sian in­ter­ests.

The Krem­lin warn­ings come amid un­cer­tainty over U.S. Se­nate rat­i­fi­ca­tion of New START, a strate­gic nu­clear arms lim­i­ta­tion treaty signed by Obama and Medvedev in April and seen as the linch­pin of im­prov­ing re­la­tions. Rus­sia em­pha­sizes it could with­draw from New START if a U.S. mis­sile shield de­vel­ops into a threat to its se­cu­rity. -Reuters

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