MUNICH, Germany – Russia's burgeoning economic power does not represent a threat to other countries, but the West has to get used to Moscow's growing influence in world affairs, a senior Russian official said Sunday.
First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov also told a gathering of the world's top defense officials that Russia would like to see a new multilateral approach to nuclear arms control to replace old U.S.-Russian agreements.
Ivanov said Russia expected to be among the world's five biggest economies by 2020 but that "we do not aim to buy the entire Old World with our petrodollars."
"Getting richer, Russia will not pose a threat to the security of other countries. Yet our influence on global processes will continue to grow."
However, Russia's increased assertiveness in world affairs was criticized by the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, who said Moscow had not been constructive in efforts to secure an international agreement on Kosovo's independence. Solana also expressed concern over a speech Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin which warned of the emergence of a new arms race.
Though Moscow and Washington have been at odds recently over an American plan to position parts of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Ivanov said that Russia and the U.S. needed to work closely together to combat nuclear proliferation.
"Tackling issues of strategic stability can no longer remain in the exclusive sphere of relations between our two powers, the United States of America and Russia," he said.
He suggested that old bilateral treaties between the U.S. and Russia on nuclear arms should be replaced by multilateral agreements.
"It is imperative to ensure that the provisions of such a regime should be legally binding so that, in due course, it would really become possible to shift to the control over nuclear weapons and the process of their gradual reduction on a multilateral basis," he said.
Involvement of all major nuclear nations, he said, "is the essence of our proposals related to the anti-missile defense and to the intermediate and short-range missiles."