US, Russia step up war of words over missile shield
The stepped-up war of words came as Poland on Saturday broke ground on the northern section of a US missile defence shield launched in Romania a day earlier, which Russia slammed as a serious security threat despite US assurances to the contrary.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday warned Washington that Moscow will consider measures to “end threats” from the US anti-missile systems in Europe but said it would not be engaged in a new arms race.
“Now that these anti-missile elements have been installed, we will be forced to consider putting an end to the threats emerging in relation to Russia’s security,” Putin told defence officials.
US President Barack Obama hit back hours later, warning Russia about its military build-up in northern Europe, as he hosted leaders from five Nordic countries at the White House.
“We are united in our concern about Russia’s growing aggressive military presence and posture in the Baltic-Nordic region,” Obama said.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said last week that Moscow will set up three new divisions in the west and south of the country by the end of 2016 to counter Nato forces close to its border.
Relations between Nato and Moscow have sharply deteriorated since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.
The two US missile interceptor stations are part of Nato’s larger European shield, which is due to become fully operational in the next two years.