[QODLink]
Europe
Medvedev warns of new arms race
Russia's president says tension with West could escalate unless agreement on missile defence is reached.
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2010 14:33 GMT
Medvedev wants an equal say for Russia in the European missile defence system [Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin]

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has warned that a new arms race could erupt if Russia and the West could not agree on building a missile defence system.

Speaking at his annual state of the nation address on Tuesday, Medvedev said questions remained about the proposed missile shield, which Russia has agreed to work on with Nato.

"In the coming decade we face the following alternatives: Either we reach agreement on missile defence and create a full-fledged joint mechanism of co-operation, or ... a new round of the arms race will begin," he said.

"And we will have to take a decision about the deployment of new offensive weapons. It is clear that this scenario would be very grave."

Earlier this month Russia and Nato agreed in Lisbon to look into ways in which the two could work together on a new continental shield, which the Kremlin has spent years resisting.

Countering perceptions

Medvedev has demanded that Russia be handed an equal say in the system's operations - a request that would require a never-before seen degree of military co-operation and intelligence sharing between Moscow and the West.

But the two sides have failed to agree on a list of countries that pose a threat, with the US identifying Iran and North Korea, two nations that Russia sees as relatively harmless in the near future.

Medvedev's comments come a day after secret US diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks said the Russian president played "Robin to Putin's Batman", suggesting the prime minister and former president remains in charge of the country.

Neave Barker, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Moscow said Tuesday's address "countered, to an extent, perceptions that it’s really Medvedev's predecessor Vladimir Putin who's actually in charge".

"This is an attempt to show the nation that he is a capable leader who makes his own decisions - decisions that are no worse or even better than those made by Putin," Alexander Konovalov, head of the Strategic Assessment Institute said.

But others said Medvedev's comments masked a serious Russian concern: that the shield could one day be transformed into an offensive system that rains down missiles and even nuclear bombs.

"Medvedev wants a legally-binding agreement that says that the European interceptors will never be aimed at Russia,"  Pavel Felgenhauer, a military analyst told the AFP news agency.

He said that Russia is concerned that Nato could develop this capability by about 2025, too soon for Moscow to develop any meaningful response. 

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.