Russia still sees U.S. ABM system in Europe as a threat

Czech President Vaclav Klaus on a visit in Moscow has failed to persuade his Russian counterpart that the planned Anti-Ballistic-Missile system in Europe is not a threat to Russia.

“One of my goals was to persuade President Putin about the safety of the radar system in the Czech Republic. However, judging by his reaction I haven’t been able to achieve this,” the Czech President admitted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says elements of the U.S missile defence systems bring a drastic change to security within Europe.

It also represents a threat to Russia's security, he remarked.

Putin sees no possible reasons for the system's deployment in Europe, not to mention that it is not a NATO system, but part of U.S. nuclear armaments.

According to the Russian President, “this is not just a defence system. It is part of the American nuclear armament system. For the first time in history and I would like to emphasize that again – for the first time in history – elements of the American strategic nuclear system are appearing on the European Continent. For Russia it is the same as the deployment of Pershing missiles. The threat is absolutely the same.”

He thinks Iran and North Korea pose no threat to Europe as they simply do not have such kind of weapons.

In case Europe considers such threats real it should rather have negotiations with Turkey and deploy proper systems there, Putin believes.

He agreed that Prague will have no control over the planned system. Both Putin and Klaus shared the opinion that the future ABM system deployment wil not threaten bilateral relations between their countries.

Nevertheless, the Russian President stressed that Moscow will take the appropriate measures in relation to the planned system.

In Putin's opinion, such a system cannot counter terrorist threats as they use other methods. It is more effective to fight terrorism by means which do not cause confrontation but generate mutual co-operation, the Russian leader underscored.

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, says the US plan to set up missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech republic is not targetted at Russia.

He made the comment in Poland during his meeting with the country's President Lech Kaczynski in Warsaw.

The two were discussing the future of the stalled European Union constitution.

Blair added the plan is directed towards those states that seek to acquire nuclear weapons.

On Thursday US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed Russian concerns as “ludicrous”.

Meanwhile, America's insistence the missile defence system is only targeted at so called rogue states including Iran, has been brought into question, after it was confirmed Tehran is ready for direct talks with the United States over its nuclear programme. The EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana conveyed the news at the Brussels Forum conference on transatlantic relations.