Putin blasts idea of US missile defence system with bases in Czech Republic, Poland
Echoes of the cold war: that is how some observers characterised Russian President Vladimir Putin recent reaction to US plans to expand its missile defence system in Europe. At a conference in Munich Mr Putin attacked the idea of the missile defence system (which includes a proposed interceptor rocket base in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic), saying such a move could not go unanswered. But what kind of answer might we see?
"I would say that it was to be expected. There is a growing list of differences between the United States and Russia, and among these there is of course the missile defence system and possible bases in Central Europe. President Putin is under enormous pressure from conservative Russian circles, especially from the army, and so his calls for cooperation, indeed almost an alliance with the US which we have witnessed so far on international terrorism, is somewhat shattered."
"That's a long-standing debate between American politicians and Russia, because Russia of course does not believe that even that NATO expansion - one of the major issues on which they also did not see eye-to-eye - that the expansion was in fact not aimed against Russia. I would be really surprised if Mr Putin conceded on this one particular issue if we consider the overall context.
"I'd be quite sceptical with regards to the Russian reaction: we had such threats before and they usually evaporated quite quickly after the decision was taken. The same applies to NATO expansion, before the Czech Republic and other central European countries became members. There was similar 'sabre rattling' but then after we became members Russia calmed down. I expect that Russia will behave like that even now."