Missile talks with West at dead end, says Russia
In this file photo Russian President Medvedev (L) and PM Putin speak while skiing in Sochi. A top Russian official says talks over missile shield have reached a dead end.Russia’s lead negotiator with NATO on the planned Western European missile-defense system has said the discussions have reached “a dead end.”
Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov’s words came after Russia’s deputy prime minister said Russia will build a reliable aerospace defense system to effectively counter NATO missile threats.
In an interview with daily Kommersant, Antonov criticized Western proposals on missile defense as “vague,” adding that Russian participation in a European missile-defense system “is not even up for discussion,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on its website.
He identified the proposed U.S.-led missile-defense system in Europe as the main threat to Russian security and said Moscow might withdraw from the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed with Washington in 2010.
Antonov repeated positions stated by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Feb. 4. Lavrov criticized Washington for failing to provide assurances the proposed system was not directed against Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has also said Russia feels “responsibility for protecting our population from the missile threat and will create a reliable air and space defense.”
NATO allies agreed in November 2010 to develop a missile-defense shield that would protect member states against long-range attacks from states such as Iran. Russia has retained staunch opposition to the planned deployment of United States missile defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat.
PUTIN DENIES POLITICAL INMATES
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Vladimir Putin who is planning a Kremlin comeback in March polls, said Russia did not have political prisoners, ignoring supporters of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky who call him a “prisoner of conscience.” “In my opinion, we do not have political prisoners, thank God, even though they are talking about it all the time without naming any names,” Putin said. “I wish they showed me at least one person who’s behind bars on political grounds,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. “If a man was thrown in prison for 10-20 years like (former South African prisoner turned president) Nelson Mandela who fought for the freedom of the black population -- but we don’t have such people.” Khodorkovsky, head of the now-disbanded Yukos oil company was arrested in 2003 and found guilty of tax evasion for what his supporters say was punishment for daring to finance opposition to the then-president Putin.