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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia vows to retaliate against US provocations

Iran Press TV

Fri May 27, 2016 11:55PM

The whirlpool of mistrust among Russia, the United States, and the European Union is getting deeper and deeper as they keep missing every chance of reinforcing relations. This time Russia is voicing frustration that a lack of meaningful interaction is leaving Moscow with no choice but to look for ways to neutralize threats to its national security.

In Greece to mend ties with the EU on Friday, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is left with "no choice" but to retaliate against Washington's provocative moves in Eastern Europe and keep Romania and Poland in sight for installing US missile systems. Last week, the Aegis ashore ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) was activated in Romania, and Poland plans to open such a site within two years.

"[The deployment] has a negative impact. This cannot have any other impact, because the United States has at one point unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and has, in essence, begun undermining the fundamentals of international security," Putin said during a press conference after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens.

"If yesterday people simply did not know what it means to be in the crosshairs in those areas of Romania, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security. And it will be the same with Poland."

Putin made sure everybody understands it is Moscow's starkest warning since the early 2000s by stressing that Washington and its allies keep ignoring their warnings but this deployment is considered another step toward undermining Russia's security.

"We've been repeating like a mantra that we will be forced to respond somehow to your moves to undermine international security... Nobody wants to hear us. Nobody wants to hold talks with us. We are not hearing anything except general phrases. General phrases consist of stating that this is not directed against Russia, that this is not a threat to Russia."

He debunked the argument that the project was needed to defend against Iran, saying that this makes no sense especially after an international agreement was made over Tehran's nuclear program. Putin expressed concerns that the missiles that would form the shield can easily reach Russian cities.

Iran and the P5+1 group -- the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany -- reached the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in July 2015 in the Austrian capital Vienna. The agreement went into effect on January 16. Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to put some restrictions on its nuclear energy program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions that had been imposed on the Islamic Republic based on the unfounded accusation that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear program.

"At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won't know," he said.

"How can that not create a threat for us?" Putin asked, but insisted that Moscow would never make the first step, and would only respond to moves by Washington. "We won't take any action until we see rockets in areas that neighbor us."

This is not the only provocative move by the US near the Russian borders. On Friday, 13 NATO countries deployed 10,000 troops to participate in a large-scale war game in the Baltics along Russia's Eastern border concurrent with a separate round of drill in Poland. The drills come ahead of the Anaconda war games -- planned for July – which will include 31,000 troops along with tanks, aircraft, artillery units, and missile defense systems.

To show his words are backed with actions, Putin boasted about Russia's military might, saying, "We have the capability to respond. The whole world saw what our medium-range sea-based missiles are capable of [in Syria]. But we violate no agreements. And our ground-based Iskander missiles have also proven themselves as superb."

Moreover, Russian media outlets also reported on Friday that Moscow and New Delhi have agreed to export the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile, BrahMos, to third countries with talks already in "advanced stages" with countries like UAE, Chile, South Africa and Vietnam.

"The several structural changes were made in the defense exports policy and these were yielding results… Since Russia is the partner country in the BrahMos joint venture with its consent discussions with several other countries, including Philippines, South Korea, Algeria, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Singapore, Venezuela and Bulgaria have now been taken to the next level," Praveen Pathak, the spokesman for BrahMos Aerospace -- the developer of the missile – said.

BrahMos supersonic missile, with a speed of Mach 3, was developed jointly by India's Defense Research and Development Organization and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia, which established the company BrahMos Aerospace in 1998. The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

Mistake to ignore Russian strategic goals: EU

Nathalie Tocci, a special adviser to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and deputy director of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs, told TASS on Friday that the European Union has ignored signals of Moscow's new strategic goals and therefore shares part of the responsibility for the current issues in its relations with Russia, noting that a crisis in relations between Russia and the EU had been impending well before the Ukrainian developments.

"Suffice it to recollect Putin's notorious speech at the Munich conference. The European Union's mistake was in ignoring these signals, in overlooking these new aspects, in missing the warnings. And the Ukrainian developments took us by surprise."

In his speech at the Munich security conference on February 10, 2007, Putin talked about Russia's role and place in the current world order, and censured the unipolar nature of the global politics.

During his Friday press conference in Athens, Putin also commented on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's remark on Wednesday that Kiev would reinstate its control over Russia's Crimean Peninsula. "Regarding Crimea, then we think that this issue is decisively closed. This is a historical decision of the people living in Crimea, and Russia will not hold any discussion on the matter." He also stated that the issue of Luhansk and Donetsk can only be resolved by providing the regions with a special constitutional status, stressing the need to decentralize power in Ukraine.

Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17, 2014 and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum a day earlier, in which 96.8 percent of participants voted in favor of the secession.

Russia-US-EU cooperation in Mideast

Before talks with his visiting Russian counterpart, Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos said he believes close cooperation between Russia, the United States, and the European Union is necessary to put an end to the wars in the Middle East. "Close and sincere cooperation between Russia, the United States and the European Union is needed to put an end to the war in the Middle East, in particular in Syria, once and for all."

The Greek president's remarks seem like a way to downplay the disaccord among the three in their policies aimed at containing terrorism in the crisis-hit countries of the region.

Earlier in the day, Sergei Rudskoy, the head of Russia's general staff's main operations command, also criticized the lack of involvement from Washington as Moscow intensified airstrikes against oil sites controlled by terrorists in Syria."Unfortunately, our American partners are not taking any decisive steps apart from persistent requests not to strike the groups of the Nusra Front, because 'moderate opposition' units may be located nearby," he said.

Turkey hasn't apologized yet

Putin also stated that Russia is willing to consider restoring ties with Turkey despite last year's downing of the Russian Su-24 jet over Syria but Ankara must take the first step.

"We heard accusations from Turkish authorities, we did not hear apologies. And we did not hear of any readiness to compensate the loss. We hear statements on the willingness to resume [relations]. We also want to resume relations, we did not dismantle them. We have done everything over the decades to take Russian-Turkish relations to an unprecedented level of partnership and friendship. And this friendship between the Russian and Turkish peoples has, in fact, reached a very high level. We valued this greatly," he said.

Tensions between Moscow and Ankara sharply escalated when Turkey on November 24, 2015 downed the Su-24 fighter jet over Syria, claiming that it had entered Turkish airspace, an accusation strongly rejected by Moscow.

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