President Dmitri Medvedev took advantage of the euphoria in America today to order the deployment of missiles inside Europe as a response to US plans for a missile defence shield.
Speaking within hours of Barack Obama’s election as the new US President, Mr Medvedev announced that Russia would base Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad next to the border with Poland.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev makes the address to the nation in Moscow’s Kremlin on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed extending the presidential term to six years from the current four.(AP Photo/ Mikhail Metzel)
He did not say whether the short-range missiles would carry nuclear warheads. Mr Medvedev also cancelled earlier plans to withdraw three intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia.
“An Iskander missile system will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region to neutralise if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe,” Mr Medvedev said in his first state-of-the-nation address.
By Tony Halpin
The Times (London)
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)
He added that Russia was also ready to deploy its navy and to install electronic jamming devices to interfere with the US shield, which involves the deployment of a radar station in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.
His announcement prompted a burst of applause from government ministers and parliamentary deputies assembled in the Kremlin. The President failed to congratulate Mr Obama or even to mention him by name during his 85-minute state of the nation address televised live across Russia.
Instead, in a criticism directed at the US, Mr Medvedev declared: “Mechanisms must be created to block mistaken, egoistical and sometimes simply dangerous decisions of certain members of the international community.”
He accused the West of seeking to encircle Russia and blamed the US for encouraging Georgia’s “barbaric aggression” in the war over South Ossetia in August. He issued a warning that Russia would “not back down in the Caucasus”.
“The August crisis only accelerated the arrival of the crucial moment of truth. We proved, including to those who had been sponsoring the current regime in Georgia, that we are strong enough to defend our citizens and that we can indeed defend our national interests,” Mr Medvedev said.
“What we’ve had to deal with in the last few years – the construction of a global missile defence system, the encirclement of Russia by military blocs, unrestrained NATO enlargement and other ‘gifts’… The impression is we are being tested to the limit.”