RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Dmitry Medvedev has warned the country will deploy new missiles aimed at a controversial Europe-based US missile defence shield if America persists with the plan.
Russia has heavily criticised the plans to construct the shield, parts of which will be based in Romania and Poland. The US says the plan is to help protect it from ‘rogue’ states such as Iran and sees it as part of its contribution to NATO.
Medvedev today said that Russia could set up its own missile defence system and threatened to pull Russia out of the Starr Treaty and stop nuclear disarmament if the US keeps pressing ahead with its shield plan.
“We will prepare, and if necessary implement, other measures to counteract the European aspect of the US missile defence system,” Medvedev said. “In case of an unfavourable development of the situation, Russia deserves the right to refrain from further steps in disarmament and arms control.”
The relationship between strategic defensive and offensive weapons means that Russia may also pull out of the latest START Treaty.
The president added, though, that Russia “is not closing the door” on further negotiations with the US and NATO.
Medvedev is due to stop down as president in March, but is expected to seek the prime minister post currently filled by former president Vladimir Putin. Putin will run for the presidency next year.
Drawn-out negotiations for the US budget have suggested that the missile defence plan could be put on the backburner amid funding pressures. Kurt Volker, US ambassador to NATO during the last Bush administration, said that paying for a missile defence shield in Europe would be a hard-sell if it appears to Americans that the US is “picking up the tab for Europe”.
- Additional reporting by the AP
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