Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States and NATO of aiming an antimissile system being deployed in Europe at Russia despite assurances that it is intended to guard against attacks from rogue states.
With his Kremlin reelection plans in full swing, Putin said on the "Cold Politics" (Kholodnaya Politika) program on February 2 that its former Cold War adversaries have "undoubtedly aimed at neutralizing the nuclear rocket capability of Russia."
Putin said the antimissile system can cover "territory to the Urals [Mountains], the places where our ground nuclear forces are based."
Putin added that "today there is no threat from Iran or North Korea" and said NATO is not offering any guarantees, written or otherwise, that the system is not targeting Russia.
NATO two years ago invited Russia
to cooperate to create a "security roof that protects us all."
"We need a missile-defense system that includes not just all countries of NATO but Russia, too,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the time.
Russia responded coolly to that and other Western initiatives on missile defense.
In his February 2 appearance, Putin described the U.S. as the initiator of an antimissile system in Europe and called it the only country in history to have used nuclear weapons, and that against non-nuclear Japan in 1945.
"What should we do, just black this out from our memory?" Putin asked. "We will always respond to threats that appear along our borders."
Putin said Russia is the only country besides the United States with a "nuclear triad" -- ground, sea, and air nuclear forces.
Putin accused Russia's "partners in the UN Security Council" of producing evidence of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in some countries and calling for the invasion of these countries or changing the governments of these countries. He said he doubts the sincerity of such partners.
"It seems to me our partners don't want allies, they want vassals," Putin said. They want to rule" but "Russia doesn't work that way," he concluded.
Putin's remarks come a little more than a month before a Russian presidential election in which Putin is seeking to return to the presidency after serving as prime minister since 2008, when Russia's constitution obliged him to step down after two consecutive terms.