Saturday 16 December 2017

Sign deal or face cold war, Medvedev warns NATO

Andrew Osborn in Moscow

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has warned that the world will be plunged into a new Cold War-style arms race within a decade unless Moscow and the West can strike a deal on a missile defence system.

Mr Medvedev, who was giving his annual state-of-the-nation speech in the Kremlin, issued the stark warning in an apparent attempt to strong-arm Nato into giving ground on the sensitive issue.

He presented his own blueprint for a joint Nato-Russia missile defence shield at the Nato summit in Lisbon earlier this month, but got a lukewarm response.

Analysts said his blunt message to the West appeared to be: embrace us as a fully-fledged partner or have us as a potential foe. "In the coming 10 years, we are facing the following alternative," he told an audience of Russia's top decision makers including Vladimir Putin, the prime minister. "Either we agree on anti-missile defence and opt for fully-fledged joint co-operation, or -- if we fail to get constructive co-operation -- we will face a new round of the arms race."

To enthusiastic applause, Mr Medvedev warned that Russia would be forced to start thinking about where to deploy "new offensive weapons" if there was no agreement with NATO, raising the spectre of the Kremlin pumping billions more roubles into a new nuclear weapons programme. Such a scenario would be "very grave," he said.

Though he made it clear his preferred option would be to cut a deal with Nato, his outburst is unlikely to win him many friends in the military alliance. Whilst Nato has made it clear it is keen to co-operate more closely with Russia, it has not so far given any indication that it is ready to integrate its defence architecture with Russia's as fully or as quickly as Mr Medvedev seems to want.

Irish Independent

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