Sunday, November 9, 2008

Russia to deploy missiles on EU border

Russia to deploy missiles on EU border

President Dmitry Medvedev said today that Russia will deploy missiles in territory near Nato member Poland in response to US missile defense plans.

He did not say whether the short-range Iskander missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads.

In a state of the nation speech, Medvedev also blamed the US for the war in Georgia and the global financial crisis. He said he hoped the US president-elect Barack Obama would act to improve relations with Russia but he did not offer congratulations to the president-elect.

The missiles will be deployed to the Russian Baltic Sea territory Kaliningrad, he said, but did not add how many would be used. Equipment to electronically hamper the operation of prospective US missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic will be deployed, he said.

Medvedev singled out the US for criticism, casting Russia's war with Georgia in August and the global financial turmoil as consequences of aggressive, selfish US policies.

"Mechanisms must be created to block mistaken, egoistical and sometimes simply dangerous decisions of certain members of the international community," he said shortly after starting the 85-minute speech.

Medvedev, whose criticism of Washington echoed addresses by his predecessor Vladimir Putin, made it clear he was referring to the US.

Georgia sparked the August war on its territory with what he called "barbaric aggression" against Russian-backed South Ossetia. The conflict "was, among other things, the result of the arrogant course of the American administration, which did not tolerate criticism and preferred unilateral decisions."

Medvedev painted Russia as a country threatened by growing western military might.

"From what we have seen in recent years, the creation of a missile defense system, the encirclement of Russia with military bases, the relentless expansion of Nato, we have gotten the strong impression that they are testing our strength," Medvedev said.

He announced deployment of the Iskander missiles as a military response to US plans to deploy missile-defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic former Soviet satellites that are now Nato members.

Speaking just hours after Obama was declared the victor in the US presidential election, Medvedev said he hoped the incoming administration will take steps to improve badly damaged US ties with Russia. He suggested it is up to the US not the Kremlin to seek to improve relations.

"I stress that we have no problem with the American people, no inborn anti-Americanism. And we hope that our partners, the US administration, will make a choice in favor of full-fledged relations with Russia," Medvedev said.

Russian-American relations have been increasingly tense and were driven to a post-cold war low by Moscow's war with US ally Georgia.

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