Medvedev: Russia, NATO Must Reach Missile Deal


NATO's failure to build a joint European missile shield with Moscow may force Russia to deploy new offensive weapons and trigger a new arms race, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday in a stern warning reflecting the deeply rooted Kremlin distrust of Western intentions.

Some experts downplayed the threat, saying that Russia lacks money and technologies to mount a military buildup.

NATO leaders have approved a plan for a missile defense in Europe at a summit in Lisbon earlier this month and invited Russia to join. Experts from both sides will analyze the issue and report to defense ministers in July.

""In the next 10 years, the following alternatives await us — either we reach agreement on missile defense and create a full joint cooperation mechanism, or, if we don't reach a constructive agreement, a new phase of the arms race will begin,"" Medvedev said in his annual address to both houses of parliament that burst into the loud applause. ""And we will have to make a decision on deploying new means of attack. It's quite obvious that such a scenario would be extremely grave.""

Medvedev, who attended the Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon, was receptive of NATO's proposal but didn't make a definitive commitment. He warned then that Russia might decide against joining the U.S.-led effort if it doesn't feel it is being treated equally as a partner.

Medvedev's aide Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters Tuesday that the president views that scenario as ""undoubtedly negative."" ''We will have to do everything to come to an agreement,"" he said.