Russia: Medvedev`s missiles hard line dismays west
Russia`s new president, Dmitry Medvedev, launched an outspoken attack on America`s European missile defence plans, in the latest sign that policy towards the west is unchanged since Vladimir Putin...
Russia`s new president, Dmitry Medvedev, yesterday launched an outspoken attack on America`s European missile defence plans, in the latest sign that policy towards the west is unchanged since Vladimir Putin.
Medvedev denounced the Bush administration`s plans to build a missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, allegedly to shoot down a rogue missile fired by Iran. He accused the US of aggravating the situation and promised that Russia would respond appropriately.
"This common [security] heritage cannot survive if one of the sides selectively destroys isolated elements of the strategic construction," Medvedev said, adding: "This doesn`t satisfy us."
Addressing Russian ambassadors in Moscow, Medvedev also dubbed Kosovo`s US-backed independence illegal and accused the Baltic states of glorifying fascism. "They are shuffling history like a pack of cards," he said.
Medvedev`s hard line in one of his first speeches on foreign policy since his May inauguration is likely to disappoint western observers. They hoped his presidency might usher in a more conciliatory era.
The comments follow Russia`s veto last week of a UN security council resolution imposing sanctions and travel restrictions on Robert Mugabe. This earned Medvedev a rebuke from US`s ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, that Medvedev had reneged on commitments he gave during last week`s G8 summit in Tokyo - a claim the Kremlin rejects.
Medvedev is also embroiled in deepening confrontations with neighbouring Georgia and the Czech Republic. Last week the Czechs signed a deal with the US, agreeing to host the missile defence shield. On Monday, Russia`s state-run oil pipeline Transneft confirmed it had halved oil deliveries to the EU country - a move it claimed was commercial, not political.
With tensions rising over Georgia`s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Moscow last week admitted that four of its warplanes had entered Georgian airspace. Georgia`s pro-US government has threatened to shoot down any more military jets that cross into its territory.
"There are no signals that Russia`s foreign policy, as well as its domestic policy, has changed," Vladimir Ryzhkov, an opposition politician, said. "It`s the same line. No new ideas. No new signal."
Russia`s diplomatic war with Britain - which last week saw the Kremlin identify a senior diplomat in Moscow as a spy - was further evidence there were no significant differences from Putin.
Russia`s ambassador in Britain, Yuri Fedotov, yesterday said an unprecedented anti-Russian campaign by Britain had wrecked any new impetus between London and Moscow after last week`s meeting between Medvedev and Gordon Brown.
Medvedev`s speech at Russia`s foreign ministry eschewed Putin`s often waspish rhetoric, but his message was the same. He criticised the conventional armed forces in Europe treaty - which Putin withdrew from - as ineffective and unfair, and reaffirmed opposition to Nato enlargement.
"Russia continues to disapprove of Nato expansion, in particular its plans to admit Ukraine and Georgia as new members and to bring Nato military infrastructure closer to Russian borders in general," his office posted on the presidential website.