MOSCOW – Russia will deploy new missiles aimed at U.S. missile defense sites in Europe if Washington goes ahead with the planned shield despite Russia's concerns, President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.
Russia will station missiles in its westernmost Kaliningrad region and other areas if Russia and NATO fail to reach a deal on the U.S.-led missile defense plans, he said in a tough statement that seemed to be aimed at rallying domestic support.
Russia considers the plans for missile shields in Europe, including in Romania and Poland, to be a threat to its nuclear forces, but the Obama administration insists they are meant to fend off a potential threat from Iran.
Moscow has agreed to consider NATO's proposal last fall to cooperate on the missile shield, but the talks have been deadlocked over how the system should operate. Russia has insisted that the system should be run jointly, which NATO has rejected.
Medvedev also warned that Moscow may opt out of the New START arms control deal with the United States and halt other arms control talks if the U.S. proceeds. The Americans had hoped that the treaty would stimulate progress further ambitious arms control efforts, but such talks have stalled over tension on the missile plans.
"The United States and its NATO partners as of now aren't going to take our concerns about the European missile defense into account," a stern Medvedev said, adding that if the alliance continues to "stonewall" Russia it will take retaliatory action.
The U.S. plan calls for placing land- and sea-based radars and interceptors in European locations over the next decade and upgrading them over time.
Medvedev warned that Russia will deploy short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Baltic Sea exclave bordering Poland, and place weapons in other areas in Russia's west and south to target U.S. missile defense sites.
Medvedev added that prospective Russian strategic nuclear missiles will be fitted with systems that would allow them to penetrate prospective missile defenses.
He and other Russian leaders have made similar threats in the past, and the latest statement appears to be aimed at domestic audience ahead of Dec. 4 parliamentary elections.
Medvedev, who is set to step down to allow Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reclaim the presidency in March's elections, leads the ruling United Russia party list in the parliamentary vote.
A sterm warning to the U.S. and NATO issued by Medvedev seems to be directed at rallying nationalist votes in the polls.