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While the New START doesn’t prevent the U.S. from building new missile defense systems, Russia has said it could withdraw from the treaty if it feels threatened by such a system in future.

Medvedev reaffirmed that warning Wednesday, saying that Russia may opt out of the treaty because of an “inalienable link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons.”

The New START has been a key achievement of Obama’s policy of improving relations with Moscow, which had suffered badly under the George W. Bush administration.

“It’s impossible to do a reset using old software, it’s necessary to develop a new one,” Medvedev’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said at a news conference.

The U.S. plan calls for placing land- and sea-based radars and interceptors in European locations, including Romania and Poland, over the next decade and upgrading them over time.

Medvedev said that Russia will carefully watch the development of the U.S. shield and take countermeasures if Washington continues to ignore Russia’s concerns. He warned that Moscow would deploy short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Baltic Sea region bordering Poland, and place weapons in other areas in Russia’s west and south to target U.S. missile defense sites. Medvedev said Russia would put a new early warning radar in Kaliningrad.

He said that as part of its response Russia would also equip its intercontinental nuclear missiles with systems that would allow them to penetrate prospective missile defenses and would develop ways to knock down the missile shield’s control and information facilities.

Igor Korotchenko, a Moscow-based military expert, was quoted by the state RIA Novosti news agency as saying that the latter would mean targeting missile defense radars and command structures with missiles and bombers. “That will make the entire system useless,” he said.

Medvedev and other Russian leaders have made similar threats in the past, and the latest statement appears to be aimed at the domestic audience ahead of Dec. 4 parliamentary elections.

Medvedev, who is set to step down to allow Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to reclaim the presidency in March’s election, leads the ruling United Russia party list in the parliamentary vote. A stern warning to the U.S. and NATO issued by Medvedev seems to be directed at rallying nationalist votes in the polls.

Rogozin, Russia’s NATO envoy, said the Kremlin won’t follow the example of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and take unwritten promises from the West.

“The current political leadership can’t act like Gorbachev, and it wants written obligations secured by ratification documents,” Rogozin said.

Medvedev’s statement was intended to encourage the U.S. and NATO to take Russia seriously at the missile defense talks, Rogozin said. He added that the Russian negotiators were annoyed by the U.S. “openly lying” about its missile defense plans.

“We won’t allow them to treat us like fools,” he said. “Nuclear deterrent forces aren’t a joke.”

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