President Vladimir Putin on Friday described the development of NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense program as a threat to global security and vowed that Russia will take the necessary steps to maintain a strategic parity.
Putin, speaking at a meeting with military officials, scoffed at U.S. claims that the shield isn’t aimed against Russia but instead intended to fend off a missile threat from Iran. The system includes a site in Romania that became operational Thursday and a site in northern Poland where U.S. and Polish officials broke ground Friday for a facility due to be ready in 2018.
“Just a few years ago, our partners in the West, in Europe and the United States, were all speaking in one voice, telling us that they need a missile defense system to protect from missile and nuclear threats from Iran,” Putin said, adding that such a threat has ceased to exist after last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. “The threat is gone, but the creation of the missile defense system is continuing.”
Putin said Russia “will do everything needed to ensure and preserve the strategic balance, which is the most reliable guarantee from large-scale military conflicts,” but will not get drawn into an arms race.
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Featured Image – Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with military officials in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, on Friday, May 13, 2016. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK, KREMLIN POOL/AP – Stars and Stripes