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Putin Warns that Russia Must Respond to U.S. Nuclear Provocation on Its Borders

June 4, 2007 (EIRNS)—On the eve of his visit to Germany for the G8 Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted an exclusive interview to a group of leading press from the seven non-Russian summit nations, including the London Times, Corriere della Sera (Italy) and Germany's Der Spiegel weekly. In regard to the U.S. deployment of missile defense systems on the Russian border, Putin said (as reported in Der Spiegel Online English edition): "Speaking about the missile defense system ... when it is created and installed, it is going to work in an automatic mode, in conjunction with all the nuclear potential of the United States. For the first time in the history of the European continent there will be elements of the nuclear potential of the United States, which fully changes the whole configuration of international security.

"How is it being explained? That it is necessary to defend oneself against the Iranian missiles. But there are no such missiles. Iran does not have missiles with a range of 5,000 to 8,000 kilometres. We are told that the anti-missile defense system is being installed for protection against something which doesn't exist. So we believe there are no reasons and no grounds for establishing the anti-missile system in Eastern Europe ... and of course we will have to respond to that."

Putin said he still hopes that the U.S.A. will find a way back to a dialogue based on reason, but "But if this does not happen, we cannot be held responsible for our reciprocal steps. Because it is not us who have initiated the arms race that is pending in Europe. We want everyone to understand that we will not assume any responsibility for that. Nor will we allow ourselves to be blamed if we now improve our strategic nuclear weapons system. This system of missile defense creates the illusion of being protected, but it increases the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict. So there is a violation, an imbalance of strategic equilibrium in the world, and in order to provide for the balance we will need to establish systems that would be able to penetrate the missile defense system."

Putin added his suspicion that the missile issue is pushed by the U.S.A with the intent to provoke a Russian counterreaction and "prevent further cooperation between Russia and Europe." The Times reports that Putin said, "We will need to establish such systems which would be able to penetrate the (U.S.) missile defense systems. What kind of means will be used to hit the targets that our military believe are potential threats—ballistic missiles, or cruise missiles, or some kind of new weapons system?"