Moscow: Russia will counter NATO's US-led missile defence programme by deploying new strike weapons capable of piercing the shield, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Putin told defence officials that by developing defences against ballistic missiles Washington aims to "neutralize" Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent and gain a "decisive military superiority."
He said that Moscow will respond by developing "strike systems capable of penetrating any missile defences."
Putin's statement comes amid a severe strain in Russia's relations with the US and its NATO allies, which have plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine.
For many years, the Kremlin has protested the US-led missile shield, voicing con cern that it could eventually become capable of intercepting Russia's nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, thus eroding the strength of the nation's nuclear deterrent. Washington, in turn, has argued that the shield was aimed to fend off missile threats from nations such as Iran and North Korea.