Russia developing missiles to defend against US: Putin

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

MOSCOW - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Tuesday said Russia would continue to develop offensive missiles to defend against a potential US attack despite ongoing nuclear arms reductions talks.

Speaking in Vladivostok, Russia’s largest port on the Pacific Ocean, Putin said the country would develop offensive missiles “to maintain the balance of power,” Interfax reported.

The offensive missiles would be Moscow’s answer to Washington’s plans for a defensive missile shield, Putin said.

In a dramatic reversal of his predecessor George W Bush’s missile defence policy, US President Barack Obama last September said the US would scrap plans to build a missile defence system with facilities based in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Russia at the time responded positively to the change in plans, which it had earlier criticised as an affront to its interests.

Putin Tuesday criticised Washington’s lack of information on its current plans concerning the new missile defence system, which US Vice President Joe Biden in October said would be more effective, versatile and include more advanced technology than the Bush-era proposal.

Putin said it was now necessary to develop offensive missiles in the interest of Russian security.

“When our partners simply do everything they want, then aggressivity increases again - in international politics as well as in the economy,” Putin said. Russia could not allow that the US alone would feel itself to be “completely secure.”

Putin said the negotiations toward a successor to the 1991 START pact, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, ongoing in Geneva for more than two months, had been positive. The questions of missile defence and offensive weapons were closely related, Putin said.

US-Russian negotiations on the new treaty, which were recessed during the Christmas period, are to resume in mid-January.

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