Missile shield remarks forced measure, not electoral rhetoric

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday plans to put offensive weapon systems on Russia’s borders to counter a planned European missile shield were not electoral rhetoric but a forced measure.

“The statement has no tactical or pre-election implications, as some opposition members put it,” Medvedev said. “It was a thoroughly considered decision, and, to put it bluntly, I was in fact forced to make it.”

Medvedev said last week that Russia would move “advanced offensive weapon systems” to its European borders in response to a planned missile shield if talks on Russia’s participation in the project fail. Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it, Washington, however, has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

Medvedev’s missile defense remarks ‘call for dialogue’

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks about possible countermeasures against a European missile defense system were not a signal for confrontation but a message that Russia and its international partners should keep looking for compromise, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Friday.

Medvedev said on Wednesday that Russia would move “advanced offensive weapon systems” to its European borders in response to a planned missile shield if talks on the project fail. Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it, Washington, however, has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

“Dmitry Medvedev’s statement is a timely signal to our partners,” Antonov said, adding that it was an invitation “for our partners to intensify dialogue in the search for mutually acceptable solutions” on missile defense.

Antonov was head of the Russian delegation at the negotiations on a new arms reduction treaty, which was signed in April 2010.

Washington responded by saying it would not alter its plans for a European missile defense project, despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.