VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday U.S. plans for a missile defense system were the main obstacle to reaching a new deal on reducing Cold War arsenals of nuclear weapons.
Russia’s leaders have remained wary about Obama’s revised missile defense plans, which are based on sea- and land-based missile interceptors in Europe.
“If we are not developing an anti-missile shield, then there is a danger that our partners, by creating such ‘an umbrella,’ will feel completely secure and thus can allow themselves to do what they want, disrupting the balance, and aggressiveness will rise immediately,” Putin said.
“In order to preserve balance … we need to develop offensive weapons systems,” Putin said, echoing a pledge by Medvedev last week to develop a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons.
Putin said Moscow wanted more information about the U.S. plans in exchange for details about Russia’s deployed nuclear offensive missiles.
“The problems of anti-missile defense and offensive weapons are very tightly linked to each other,” he said, adding that talks on a new treaty were moving in a generally positive direction.
The State Department’s Kelly said the new START agreement would “break no new ground” on defensive weapons systems.