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Putin Says Missile Test Is Response To U.S.

A Russian RS-24 international ballistic missile launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome on May 29 (ITAR-TASS) May 31, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is developing a new ballistic missile in response to U.S. efforts to "stuff Eastern Europe with new weapons."

Putin was referring to U.S. plans to deploy elements of a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

He told a news conference in Moscow that Russia's new missile is also a response to Washington's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Russia this week test-fired what it says is an intercontinental ballistic missile that can pierce any missile shield.

Putin also denounced what he described as "imperialism" in world affairs.

"Some participants in international relations now have a desire to dictate their will to everybody on any issue without conforming to the commonly accepted norms of international law," Putin said. "We believe it's very dangerous and harmful. They are replacing or trying to replace international legal norms with so-called political expediency. What is political expediency and who defines it? We believe it is nothing but diktat and imperialism."

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Victoria Nuland told RFE/RL today that Putin's accusation that the United States has launched a new arms race with Russia is "ludicrous."

Nuland said the missile-defense system would be purely defensive and aimed at strategic threats, such as the one currently represented by Iran.

Putin's remarks come less than a week before he meets U.S. President George W. Bush and other world leaders at a G8 summit in Germany.

(with material from agency reports)

RFE/RL Russia Report

RFE/RL Russia Report

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