Report: Putin, Obama War of Words over NATO Provocations

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his United States counterpart Barack Obama have engaged in a war of words the deployment of the NATO military alliance anti-missile shield in Europe

In reaction to the deployment of a NATO missile defense site in Romania on Thursday, President Putin said Russia is being forced to look for ways to neutralize threats to its national security. “Now, after the deployment of those anti-missile system elements, we’ll be forced to think about neutralizing developing threats to Russia’s security,” Putin said.

The US missile shield in Europe is a clear violation of Russian-American arms treaties, Putin said at a meeting with Russian military officials on Friday. He added that the anti-missile facilities can be easily repurposed for firing short and midrange missiles.

The Russian president stressed that, the US anti-missile shield in Europe is yet another step in increasing international tensions and launching a new arms race.

“We’re not going to be dragged into this race. We’ll go our own way. We’ll work very accurately without exceeding the plans to finance the re-equipment of our Army and Navy, which have already been laid out for the next several years,” Putin said.

“Recent developments indicate that the situation isn’t getting better. Unfortunately, it’s deteriorating. I’m talking about the launch of the radar station in Romania as one of the elements of the up-and-coming US anti-missile defense program,” Putin said.

Russia is making every effort to maintain the strategic balance of power, in order to avoid the outbreak of large-scale conflicts, the president said.

The US and NATO have been arguing for decades that the plans to deploy an anti-missile shield in Europe would not compromise Russian security. The AEGIS Ashore system deployed in Romania is a less ambitious incarnation of the ABM system, which replaced the initial project envisioned by the Bush administration. The shield is designed to protect Europe from a possible missile attack by Iran, the alliance says. Moscow has repeatedly rejected the claim, saying the missiles are aimed at Russia instead. Russia says Iran’s missile program does not pose a threat to Europe at all, dismissing allegations of perceived threats as unfounded.

Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control, Mikhail Ulyanov said, “It is unclear on what basis allegations are being made about the threat of the Iranian missile program. For whom?” Ulyanov posed in a statement released on Wednesday.

“If it is the United States, it is not serious then because the range of Iranian missiles does not exceed two thousand kilometers. Even American forces deployed in Europe are at a greater distance from Iran.”

Meanwhile US President Barack Obama has warned Russia against what he claimed was its aggressive military build-up in northern Europe.

Obama made the remarks on Friday after meeting with Nordic leaders from Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark at the White House.

“We are united in our concern about Russia’s growing aggressive military presence and posture in the Baltic-Nordic region,” he said.

Meanwhile, Denmark, Norway reportedly agreed to contribute to “enhanced allied forward presence” with the North Atlantic Organization Treaty (NATO).

Three of the five Nordic nations are already NATO members and Sweden and Finland are close alliance partners, but their populations are divided about the possibility of full membership.

NATO is pushing for a greater presence in parts of Europe close to the Russian borders, claiming that Moscow poses a military threat to its neighbors. Anti-Russian sentiment has been stirred lately in some Nordic countries as well.

In Sweden, the Navy launched a long and futile hunt for an alleged Russian spy submarine in 2014. And last year its Army chief told the military during a major event that they could be in a war against Russia in a few years.

In Norway, the military have resumed the Cold War-era practice of storing tanks and other hardware in a series of caves – as a contingency for a major continental war. It also hosted military training this year, one of the biggest since the Cold War and one of dozens NATO held near Russia’s border in the past few years. The scenario of Cold Response involved a conflict with a fictional cold country.

The most-expensive domestically-produced TV series in Norway is about a Russian occupation of the country – conducted with the blessing of the European Union to ensure stability of energy supply.

Moscow insists that NATO is using scaremongering tactics to justify the rise of defense spending by European members and greater military presence in the region. Russia’ latest response to this has been to strengthen its own troops on the western border.

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