MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Systematic attempts are being made to undermine the existing strategic balance of forces, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday at a meeting with senior military staff at the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Systematic attempts are being made from the outside to disrupt the strategic balance in this or that manner. In fact, the second stage of the US global missile defense system is being launched, and the possibilities for further NATO eastward expansion are being explored,” Putin said.
“The danger of the militarization of the Arctic also persists,” he added.
Those challenges affect Russia’s national interests and determine the priorities of its foreign policy, Putin said.
Those priorities include Eurasian integration, expanding the single economic space and possibly turning it into an economic union, strengthening ties with Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) partners and the BRICS group of emerging economies, and boosting the military capabilities of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Moscow has consistently opposed NATO's US-led missile defense program for Europe, claiming it undermines Russia's nuclear deterrent. NATO maintains the program is aimed at emerging nuclear weapon states such as Iran and North Korea.
Updates with more details in para 4, 5