Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to “neutralize” Western threats, particularly those posed by American maneuvers near the country’s borders.
With U.S. backing, Romania activated the $800 million missile shield at its Soviet-era base on May 12. Shortly before the move, Poland’s anti-ballistic missile shield had its northern wing installed. The U.S. also led a military drill in Georgia despite objections from Russia.
Bloomberg quoted the Russian President as stating that the country must consider “how to neutralize the threats” for Russia’s security.
Putin called the recent developments an attempt to “shakeup” the global security system. Combined with the deployment of U.S. ships carrying Aegis missiles in the Mediterranean and Poland’s additional shield elements, the Russian President accused the U.S. of leading a “new arms race.” Putin says Russia will not enter the race, and insists the country will go its own way.
Putin’s plan is to continue the re-arming of its navy and army. Approved funds will be used in a way that will maintain the “current strategic balance of forces.” But Putin made it clear that Russia will make every effort to protect itself.
The Russian President said preserving the balance of forces is the most reliable way to prevent “large-scale military conflicts,” and he would do everything necessary to maintain that balance.
Putin dismissed the U.S.’s recent moves as a defense system, instead calling them a “nuclear strategic potential” brought onto Russia’s borders in Eastern Europe. He said “those taking such decisions” have, until now, lived in peace and safety.
Robert Work, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary, said the shield would not be used against missile threats from Russia. Frank Rose, a senior official for U.S. arms control, has warned that ballistic missiles in Iran may hit Romania and other parts of Europe.
Putin dismissed the prospect of a nuclear threat from Iran, calling it an excuse to develop its missile shield in Europe.
The defensive umbrella, which will be complete in 2018, will span from Greenland to Azores. The shields rely on radars that are capable of detecting ballistic missile launches into space. Sensors can then calculate the rocket’s course, and neutralize the missile before it has a chance to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere. Interceptors can be fired from ground sites or ships.
Putin says the U.S.’s missile shield in Europe clearly violates the Russian-America arms treaties, noting that the anti-missile facilities may be repurposed to fire short and midrange missiles. Putin has threatened to pull out of the deal if Washington continues with its anti-missile objectives.
Moscow says the U.S. missile defense system is designed to neutralize Russia’s offensive capabilities, a claim the Pentagon has rejected numerous times, and the launching systems may easily be re-equipped with offensive missiles.
Just as the anti-missile shield is activated in Romania, NATO is beginning construction on yet another base in Poland, which is the final segment in the Eastern European shield. The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the base on Friday at Redzikowo, close to the Baltic Sea. In 2018, the base will have operational Aegis missiles.