Good old Vlad....www.theage.com.au/news/world/putin-may-end-cold-war-pact/2007/10/12/1191696176888.html
|Putin may end Cold War pact|
Jim Mannion Moscow
October 13, 2007
RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin threatened in talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to abandon a key nuclear missile treaty, while also telling Washington to freeze plans for a European anti-missile shield.
Speaking at the start of talks with Dr Rice and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Mr Putin said the Cold War-era INF treaty limiting Russian and US short and medium-range missiles was outmoded because other countries were acquiring such weapons.
"If we are unable to make such a goal of making this treaty universal, then it will be difficult for us to keep within the framework of such a treaty, especially when other countries do have such weapons systems," Mr Putin said.
Mr Putin urged the US delegation, which was in Moscow to tackle spiralling Russian-US tensions, "not to force" the planned deployment of an anti-missile system in new NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia vehemently opposes the stationing of interceptor missiles in Poland and a powerful targeting radar in the Czech Republic by 2012, but has offered access to a Russian-controlled early warning radar in Azerbaijan as an alternative.
Mr Gates said talks were to tackle "an ambitious agenda for security issues that concern both of us, including the development of missile systems by others in the neighbourhood — I would say in particular Iran."
The two sides were also to raise Iran's nuclear program, the status of Kosovo, and proposals to renew the Cold War-era START strategic missile treaty.
Adding to the sensitivity of the trip, which comes at a time of rancorous relations between an increasingly hawkish Kremlin and White House, Dr Rice was to meet human rights activists.
Critics of Mr Putin accuse him of dismantling democratic gains in the run-up to December parliamentary and March presidential elections.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on arrival for the talks at Mr Putin's residence in the Moscow suburbs that deals were far from certain.
Asked if he expected a breakthrough, Mr Lavrov quipped: "Breaks definitely, (but) through or down, I don't know."
The high-powered US delegation was unlikely to make much progress in persuading Moscow to back a Western push for tougher sanctions on Iran.
Mr Putin said on Wednesday that he saw no evidence the Islamic republic was masking a bomb-making project behind the largely Russian-built civilian nuclear power program.
But Dr Rice, who hopes to persuade Russia to back stronger action against Tehran, said en route to Moscow that the Russians were indeed worried by Iran's intentions.
A Moscow proposal to handle Iran's uranium processing on Russian territory and to control any spent fuel revealed "suspicion about Iran's intentions", she said.
On Kosovo, Russia has sided with Serbia in opposing Western backing for independence in the breakaway province, currently administered by the United Nations.
Protego quod vallo.
Si vis pacem, para bellum.