President Dmitry Medvedev has said that Russia may be forced to take new steps in response to further deployment of American missile defense system in Europe.
“Our response to European missile defense will be gradual. The first stage has already been completed – that was the launching of the radar system in Kaliningrad,” Medvedev said at a meeting with his and Prime Minister Putin’s supporters on Thursday.
The president warned that more steps will follow if necessary.
“But I really would not like any of the Russian leaders to make the decision to deploy strike forces at our borders at the end of this decade,” Medvedev added.
He underlined that Russia remains “absolutely open” for talks on the issue with NATO partners.
“We are only saying that if our partners fail to come to terms with us on certain parameters in the coming 10, nine or eight years, we will be compelled to make some steps,” Medvedev pointed out.
The head of state said that time has not run out yet for the sides to iron out their differences. However, if the situation develops the in the vein it is now, Russia will have to respond.
“We have both material and military prerequisites for that,” Medvedev said.
The president observed that it is clear to everyone that “missile defense is the continuation of the strategic nuclear forces, only with the use of different means.”
“If we have the parity of the strategic nuclear balance, any action that breaks this parity will change such a balance. We will have to respond to these actions,” he said.
Last week the leader announced that Russia will deploy strike systems in the west and south of the country and deploy Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Region in order to counter the risk posed by the European missile defense system. The move followed the US failure to provide any legally-binding guarantees that its project would not be targeted against Russia.
Commenting on the decision at the Thursday meeting, Medvedev underlined that his statement was well-considered and had no election implications.
“I’ll tell you frankly, in fact I was forced to make it,” he said. The president pointed out that lately he had repeatedly tried to discuss the creation of a joint defense system in Europe with his colleagues from NATO states. However, his initiatives have found no support.
Back in November 2010, at the Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon, Russia accepted an invitation to participate in the creation of the European missile defense shield. However, Moscow insisted that it would only take part in the project as an equal partner, rather than a passive observer – the way the US and its partners in the alliance saw it.
Medvedev recalled that after the summit, during a bilateral meeting, his American counterpart Barack Obama said that the US would not sign any legally-binding documents with Russia on missile defense, including a sectoral defense system that Moscow suggested. Obama said that Washington saw no political gain from signing such an agreement and added that the document would not pass the US Congress and a whole range of European structures.
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