Moscow: The Russian military must prepare to
counter US missile defence plans in Europe even as talks
between Moscow and Washington are ongoing, President Dmitry
Medvedev said on Tuesday.
Medvedev told a meeting of Russia`s top military brass
that the country "isn`t shutting the door to dialogue," but
nevertheless must get ready to take military countermeasures.
The US says the NATO missile defence plan is aimed at
deflecting potential missile threats from Iran, but Moscow
fears that in the next few years it will grow powerful enough
to undermine Russia`s nuclear deterrent.
"By 2017-2018 we must be fully prepared, fully armed,"
Medvedev said in televised comments, referring to his earlier
threat to aim missiles at the US-led NATO missile shield if no
agreement is reached.
NATO has said it wants to cooperate with Russia on the
missile shield, but the alliance has rejected Russia`s
proposal to run it jointly.
Without a NATO-Russia cooperation deal, Medvedev has
sought guarantees from the US that any future missile defence
is not aimed at Russia and threatened to retaliate if no such
deal is negotiated.
"Even though the talks are ongoing, we must get ready for
a serious rearming of the armed forces so that we could be in
a due shape and capable to respond to the missile defence in
Europe," Medvedev said.
Tensions over the system have strained ties between Moscow
and Washington. They are expected to flare up again in May
when Vladimir Putin heads to the United States shortly after
being sworn in for his third presidential term.
Russian officials have voiced scepticism that Russia and
the US could reach an agreement in the short time left before
Putin hasn`t yet said whether he would participate in the
NATO summit in Chicago beginning May 20 after attending the
Group of Eight leading industrialised nations summit at Camp
David. The alliance is expected to review its plans for the
missile shield at the summit a move likely to further vex