In a documentary aired by Russian state television on the eve of a global security conference in Munich, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reiterated his confidence that U.S. missile shield plans were aimed at undermining Russia’s defense capabilities.
“Today, neither Iran, nor North Korea poses a threat… Today, it’s missile defense that is certainly aimed at neutralizing Russia’s nuclear missile potential,” Putin said in the documentary, entitled “Cold Politics,” which was aired by the First Channel late on Thursday.
Radars to be installed near Russia’s western borders as part of the NATO missile defense system would shield the entire territory of European Russia, Putin said. Yet Washington officials “do not want to provide any guarantees” that their missile plans are not directed against Russia, he added.
Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the NATO missile shield will not target Russia. Washington, however, refuses to provide the guarantees, saying the shield is intended to defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran.
In the documentary, Putin also noted that the United States was the only country to use nuclear weapons, referring to the 1945 bombing of Japan.
“We cannot forget this, and we will always react to threats that would emerge near our borders,” Putin said.
In an apparent reference to Iran, he also criticized what he described as calls by some members of the UN Security Council for “intervention and regime change in some countries” which they believe may obtain “weapons of mass destruction.”
“It seems to me that our partners are looking for vassals, not allies. They want to govern. But Russia cannot come into line with this,” he said.
Putin’s comments were aired on the eve of the 48th Munich Security Conference, in which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will take part along with dozens of top officials and security experts from around the world.
Ahead of the conference, which runs from February 3 to 5, its chairman Wolfgang Ischinger expressed hope that it would help Russia and its Western partners reach a “compromise” on the missile defense issue “so that the cooperation with Russia can move forward at the NATO summit in May in Chicago.”