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Putin likens U.S. shield to Cold War missile crisis

Vladimir Putin has lashed out at a U.S. plan to install parts of a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, saying it is similar to what the Soviet Union did in 1962 when it put ballistic missiles on Cuba. The action provoked the worst crisis of the Cold

The Russian leader was speaking at a media briefing following the Russia-EU summit in Portugal.

Speaking about the missile threat facing Russia, President Putin said it was Washington rather than Moscow that pulled out of the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) treaty, against the wishes of Russia.

“Then came another decision – the decision to install anti-missile elements near our borders,” he said.

“Similar actions by the Soviet Union in the 1960s provoked the Cuban missile crisis,” the Russian leader said.

Mr Putin said Washington got permission for the missile shield through bilateral agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic, without any discussions with NATO.

Double standards

Missile defence wasn't the only contentious issue to be raised at the summit.  The Russian president clashed with EU President Jose Manuel Barroso over the murder investigation of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Putin said Russia would “investigate all crimes especially those against media people.”

Mr Putin then went on the offensive, accusing Sweden of double standards over its refusal to extradite Magomed Uspayev in connection with the abduction and killing of journalist Vladimir Yatsina in Chechnya in 1999.

“It's regretable that Sweden refuses to extradite a suspect in the killing of a journalist. Following a request from the General Posecutor Office he was detained but then released. I'm sorry about that,” he said. 

Pushing the positive

Despite remaining disagreements, both Russia and the EU say the summit was constructive.

The major issues on the agenda were energy security, building business ties, human rights and tackling the trade in illegal drugs.

The two sides agreed to continue work on an early-warning mechanism designed to stop any interruption to energy supplies from Russia to Europe. The system is based on the free flow of information on potential difficulties.

In terms of economic co-operation, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said “there’s still much potential to explore” and that trade and investment between Russia and Europe “continues to grow impressively”

He added that the EU is a strong supporter of Russia’s accession to the WTO.

“We have narrowed down the remaining issues to just two. I’m confident they are solvable and both sides need to make rapid efforts to solve them.” Mr Barosso said.

Two documents were signed at the summit – the Russia-EU agreement on steel trade and a commitment to work together to combat drug trafficking.

Human rights again

Human rights and democratic development were also brought up. 

Moscow suggested setting up a human rights watchdog in both Europe and Russia. 

Mr Barroso welcomed Russia's invitation that EU observers monitor upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

Putin's future

Mr Putin's future plans were raised during a questions and answers session.  

“I will not run for another term as president”, he told reporters. 

He also said he had no intention of changing Russia's Constitution for his own benefit.

As for my future job – I have not decided yet where and in what capacity I will work. If somebody thinks I am going to become a Prime Minister with more powers, then they're mistaken”, he said.