Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Moscow will build up its “striking forces” including nuclear weapons to ensure security if a joint decision on missile defence fails.
Putin’s remarks came shortly after President Dmitry Medvedev warned in his annual address of a possible new round of the arms race if the sides do not agree on the European missile defence shield.
If Russia’s proposals on the European system “are met with negative answers only” while additional threats appear, “Russia will have to ensure her own security,” Putin said, according to previewed excerpts of an interview with CNN’s Larry King released Wednesday.
“Striking forces” would include “new missile, nuclear technology,” he said. “This is not our choice, we do not want that to happen,” but this is what will happen “if we do not agree on a joint effort there,” Putin said.
The full interview will air at 9:00 pm Eastern Time in the United States, or 0500 GMT.
Russia and NATO agreed to deepen missile defence cooperation at last month’s summit in Lisbon.
Medvedev warned at the time that the positive response of Russia to a missile defence shield in Europe depended on the quality of cooperation between Moscow and the Alliance.
The Wall Street Journal reported that NATO leaders late last month rejected a proposal from Medvedev to unite Russia’s missile defenses with a shield being built by the West.
A few hours before Putin’s interview, the Russian defence ministry said its new RS-24 ballistic missile would allow Russia to bypass missile defence systems.
“The entry into service of the RS-24 will reinforce the strategic capacity of striking forces in the matter of bypassing anti-missile defence systems, therefore consolidating the nuclear deterrent,” spokesman Igor Shevchenko was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
Putin’s remarks also come amid uncertainty about the fate of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed this year by US President Barack Obama and Medvedev.
START restricts the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30 percent from a limit set in 2002.
The Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has indicated it will ratify the treaty only after its ratification by the US Senate.
The agreement, a top Obama foreign policy initiative, replaces a previous accord that lapsed in December 2009 but ratification has been held up by opposition Republicans.