12:36 GMT04 March 2021
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed in an interview with Oliver Stone that Moscow had proposed Washington to jointly work on the missile defense issue before the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

    The full four-part documentary by Stone, dubbed The Putin Interviews, was broadcast by the Showtime television network on June 12-15. On Friday, Stone released the transcript of his interviews with the Russian leader, which had been recorded between 2015 and 2017 and were aired by the Showtime television network earlier in the week.

    "We tried to convince him [then US President George W. Bush], show him — and this wasn't futile — that it [the US missile shield in Europe] was a threat for us. On a certain stage [of talks], the American partners at the level of the Ministry of Defense [the US Department of Defense] said that they understood our concerns. And I must say that we proposed working together on a missile defense system, the United States, Europe and Russia. But in the end… our partners, unfortunately, refused this offer…," Putin reportedly said.

    Moreover, Putin told the US film-maker that Russia is now almost surrounded by US missile defense systems, from ground-based bases in Eastern European countries, to NATO ships patrolling the Mediterranean and the northern seas, and Alaska, where missile defense systems are currently being installed.

    This, the president stressed, was "another big, glaring strategic mistake [by] our partners, because Russia will give a suitable response to all of these actions, and this will mean nothing else other than another phase of an arms race. Our response will be much cheaper. Its [equipment] may be rougher somewhere, but it will be effective. We shall preserve this so-called strategic balance."

    Putin also reminded the director that the US was the nation to unilaterally withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, under the pretext of an Iranian threat. 

    "But now there are no problems with Iran, the [nuclear] deal has been signed with it. Iran has abandoned all nuclear military weapons programs. The United States agreed with it and signed the corresponding document. However, the missile defense program with its elements in Europe continues further. Against whom is it aimed? Obviously, it prompts us to respond to the situation somehow."

    Also speaking to Stone, Putin said he had once proposed the idea of Russia joining NATO to President Bill Clinton.

    "I remember one of our last meetings with President Clinton in Moscow. During the meeting I said, 'we should consider an option that Russia might join NATO.' Clinton replied, 'Why not?'" Putin recalled. "But the US delegation got very nervous," he added, laughing as he recollected the moment.

    An Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system was activated in Romania in May 2016 and the US is constructing a second system in Poland.

    On December 13, 2002, then US President George W. Bush announced that Washington would unilaterally withdraw from the ABM Treaty with the USSR. The treaty, signed in 1972, barred the parties from deploying anti-ballistic missile systems that could cover the entire territory of their countries, or providing a base for such broad-range defense.


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    US missile defense systems, George W. Bush, Oliver Stone, Vladimir Putin, US, Russia
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