Putin on Euro Ballistic Missile Defense Threat: We Have Done What We Could
September 7, 2012 • 9:07AM

In his interview with Russia Today television, recorded Sept. 3 and broadcast today, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed an array of strategic matters, including the current situation in Syria. A recurrent polemic in the interview was that people pushing various scenarios in crisis areas are hell-bent on their short-term schemes, "and hardly ever think of the consequences that will follow."

On strategic military relations, Putin said that the U.S. missile defense system now being deployed, particularly in Europe, "is surely one of the key issues on today's agenda, because it involves Russia's vital interests." He forcefully presented the Russian understanding that the Euro Ballistic Missile Defense system's "ambition is to upset the strategic balance, which is a very dangerous thing to do, as any party involved will always strive to maintain its defensive capabilities, and the entire thing could simply trigger off an arms race." As for negotiations on alternatives to the unilateral U.S./NATO Euro BMD system, Putin said: "We did what we could," citing the Russian offers of a joint missile defense program. "Our partners are so far refusing to go along. What else can we do?"

Asked about Mitt Romney's characterization of Russia as the "number one geopolitical foe," Putin returned to the Euro BMD threat: "When we talk about the missile defense system, our American partners keep telling us, 'This is not directed against you.' But what happens if Mr. Romney, who believes us to be America's enemy number one, gets elected as president of the United States? In that case, the system will definitely be directed against Russia, as its infrastructure looks to be configured exactly for this purpose. And you also have to think about its strategic character, it's built not for a year or even a decade, and the chances that a man with Romney's views could come to power are quite high. So what are we supposed to do to ensure our security?" Thus, said Putin, "we shall have to think about how we can defend ourselves and preserve the strategic balance."

Putin handled questions about the recent Pussy Riot provocation and other controversies that are pumped up in the international media. He insisted on discussing not the legal case, but "the moral side" of the Pussy Riot actions, including the impact on media viewers who hear the obscene name of the punk rock group repeated dozens of times daily by reporters.