Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday plans to put offensive weapon systems on Russia's borders to counter a planned European missile shield were not electoral rhetoric but a forced measure.
"The statement has no tactical or pre-election implications, as some opposition members put it," Medvedev said. "It was a thoroughly considered decision, and, to put it bluntly, I was in fact forced to make it."
Medvedev said last week that Russia would move "advanced offensive weapon systems" to its European borders in response to a planned missile shield if talks on Russia's participation in the project fail. Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it, Washington, however, has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.
He said that he has raised the issue repeatedly, including at a meeting with NATO partners and U.S. President Barack Obama.
"All our military specialists are convinced that the proposed European missile shield configuration will impair the world's strategic parity and the relations that we recently had, including the [New] START Treaty," Medvedev said.
He said that Russia would take a set of measures within the next eight or ten years to reduce a threat to its security, and the first step has already been made, namely Tuesday's launch of a new anti-missile radar station in the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
"If we and our partners fail to come to an agreement on some issues within the next ten, or eight, or nine years, we will have to introduce a whole range of forced measures. And our response to the European missile shield will also be step-by-step measures," the Russian president said.
Medvedev said on Tuesday the radar in Kaliningrad, capable of monitoring missile launches from the North Atlantic, as well as the U.S.-backed future European missile shield, should be treated by the West as the "first signal" of Russia's readiness to counter "threats" posed by NATO's missile defense plans.
"Other measures have also been announced," he added. "If the events continue to unfold in this direction, we will have to respond. And we have both material and military bases for it."
Among other measures announced by Medvedev in his address to the nation on November 23, was the planned deployment of Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad Region in the near future and halting its disarmament and arms control efforts, including participation in the new strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States.