BELGRADE – Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. missile defense system being deployed in Europe has the potential of turning into an offensive system and may be used against the Russian Federation.

“There’s no [nuclear] threat [from Iran], and the missile defense system [in Europe] is still being built, so we were right when we said they are deceiving us, they are not sincere with us referring to the alleged Iranian nuclear threat during the construction of the missile defense system,” Putin said.

“It is like this actually – they tried to deceive us once again,” he said at a meeting with the heads of global information agencies.

“We know approximately which year the Americans will get a new missile that will have a range of not 500 kilometers but more, and from that moment they will start threatening our nuclear potential. We know what will be going on by years. And they know that we know,” Putin underscored.

He stated that the United States, “despite all our objections, all our proposals on real cooperation, does not want to cooperate with us, rejects our proposals and acts in accordance with its plan.”

“You may believe me or not, but we have suggested specific variants of cooperation, they have all really been rejected,” Putin said.

He recalled that missile defense system elements have been built in Romania. “What have they constantly said? ‘We need to protect ourselves from Iran’s nuclear threat.’ Where’s the Iranian nuclear threat? There’s none!” Putin said.

Putin said on Friday he is worried that military confrontation between Russia and the United States “is dragging the world into a new dimension.”

“People feel no danger and that is alarming for me. Why can’t we see that we are dragging the world into an utterly new dimension? This is the problem,” Putin said.

He said he doesn’t know how to “bring it home” to partners from other countries.

Putin cited U.S. arguments that the missile defense system in Europe is of a defensive rather than offensive nature. “It’s untrue. The strategic missile defense system is part of a strategic offensive potential. And all that works in a link with offensive striking systems,” he said.

“I don’t know where it [the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe] might lead to but I know for sure that we will have to respond,” he stressed, adding with a smile that he is sure in any case Russia “will again be accused of aggressive behavior, although it is just a response.”

“It is clear that we will have to ensure not only our own security. It is vital for us to ensure strategic balance in the world,” Putin said.

He recalled previous discussions with the United States of the idea to build non-nuclear ballistic missiles. “We said then: ‘Do you understand what it is? You will have missiles launched from submarines, from territory. A ballistic missile is fired, and we don’t know if it contains a nuclear warhead or not,” the Russian president said.

“It is the strategic balance that has secured peace on the planet from big armed conflicts over the past 70 years, and it is good, although it is based on a mutual threat, but it has ensured global peace for us for decades. How can it be destroyed? It seems to me it is very dangerous. I am convinced of that,” he said.

Putin did not advise Canada to abstain from joining the missile defense system in Europe. “We can’t tell you what to do. Do as you wish. And we will do as we consider necessary to ensure our security,” he said.

Putin said Russia has achieved great success in modernization and development of nuclear striking armaments and in development of antimissile defense systems.
“We warned that we will do that (develop armaments), we said it and are doing it. I assure you: today Russia has achieved great successes on that way,” Putin said.

In his words, nuclear striking systems have been upgraded and new ones are being successfully developed.

“I am not even speaking about systems to counter missile defense systems,” Putin said.
“The world has been saved from large-scale wars and military conflicts thanks to the so-called strategic balance, which was reached after two super-nuclear powers actually agreed on deterrence both in the growth of offensive armaments and in missile defense systems,” he said.

“Because it is clear for everyone: if one country develops missile defense in a more successful way than another, it acquires an advantage, it begins to have a temptation to be the first to use the weapon,” Putin said.

He said “this is one of the cornerstones of international security – the missile defense system and agreements in the sphere.”

Putin said that “when American partners unilaterally quit [the agreements], they dealt a huge blow, it was the first blow on international stability from the viewpoint of the possibility of disruption of the strategic balance of forces.”

“Then I said that we can’t develop the technology now as it is expensive, and, second, it is unknown how it will work… We will follow a different path – we will improve striking systems to preserve the balance [of forces in the world],” he recalled.

Russian President has met with chief executives of the world’s leading news agencies on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) to answer questions about many urgent issues on the international and domestic agenda.