[QODLink]
Europe
Russia in Ukraine missile warning
Putin signs gas deal but tells Kiev not to join Nato or accept US missile defences.
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2008 21:55 GMT
Many European countries receive gas supplies from Russia through pipelines crossing Ukraine [AFP]

Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, has said that his country could aim nuclear missiles at Ukraine if it joins Nato and accepts the deployment of anti-missile defences on its territory.
 
Speaking in Moscow after four hours of talks with Ukraine's president, Putin said that Kiev's aspirations to join Nato would restrict its sovereignty.
Putin said: "That of course is Ukraine's internal process ... and we don't have the right, and we won't, interfere in this process.
 
"[But] that raises the question for Russia of the need for retaliatory actions.
"It's frightening not just to talk about, but even to think about, that in response to such deployment, the possibility of such deployments, that Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory."
 
The Kremlin is already fighting plans by the US to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic which it says will threaten Russia's security.
 
Gas deal
 
Putin's comments came almost immediately after he had announced that he had approved a deal with Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian president, over a gas bill for $1.5bn owed to Moscow.
 
Your Views

Should Europe host a US defence shield despite Russian opposition?

Send us your views

The two men had been holding talks in the Russian capital after Yushchenko flew there on Tuesday.
 
Ukraine will begin new payments on the debt from Thursday.
 
Gazprom, the Russian majority state-owned gas company, had extended to Tuesday evening its deadline for cutting a quarter of gas supplies to Ukraine after previous talks between companies from the two countries failed to resolve the dispute.
 
The meeting had been closely monitored in EU countries, who receive Russian gas through pipelines crossing Ukraine.
 
Nato invitation
 
In a separate development, it has been announced that Putin will attend a Nato summit in April, the first time a Russian leader will have taken part in such a meeting since Rome in 2002.
 
Yushchenko and Putin met in Kremlin on
Tuesday to sign the last-ditch deal [AFP]
Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said: "President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation to take part. This yet again testifies to the fact that Russia is open to dialogue on any issues.

"We are convinced that the trilateral Russian, American and European format contains huge potential in all spheres, linked to safeguarding security and stability."
 
Putin, who leaves office in May after his successor is elected in March, has accused Nato and the US of failing to respond to Russian security concerns.
 
"It is already clear that a new arms race is being unleashed in the world," Putin said at a state council meeting of ministers governors and parliament members in Moscow on Friday.
 
He said "we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into this" but that Russia will "always respond" to such challenges.
Source:
Agencies
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
In Brussels, NGO staff are being trained to fill the shortfall of field workers in West Africa.
Lawsuit by 6-year-old girl, locked up for a year, reignites debate over indefinite detention of 'boat people'.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Citizens of the tiny African nation say they're increasingly anxious of the fallout after alleged coup.
A humanitarian crisis and a budget crisis converge in the heart of the human smuggling corridor in Texas.
join our mailing list