Russian prime miister offers end to standoff over Eastern European missile systems

Other News Materials 24 November 2008 17:00 (UTC +04:00)

Russia is prepared to make plans to deploy missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave "disappear" if the United States drops plans to base part of its missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia's prime minister said Monday.

If the new administration of US president-elect Barack Obama drops deployment plans for a missile shield in what Russia considers to be within its sphere of influence, then "questions of our retaliatory measures will disappear by themselves," Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told journalists at a forum in St Petersburg.

Putin is considered by many to have the last say on Russian foreign policy, reported dpa.

Washington has failed in multiple rounds of negotiations to calm Moscow's concerns about the missile system it says needs to be based in eastern Europe to protect against threats from rogue state's such as Iran.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned on November 5 that Russia would deploy semi-ballistic missiles to its Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, bordering NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if US plans went ahead.

Putin added on Monday that Russia was hoping for "more constructive" negotiations on a key nuclear arms treaty set to expire next year.

The comments came as Medvedev eased his tone, saying at an Asia- Pacific forum in Peru that he was open to compromise with the new US administration.

"Dialogue is possible, a change of position is possible," Medvedev was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying in Lima, where current US President George W Bush was also in attendance. Obama has shown signs he may even rescind the shield plans, Medvedev said.

Obama and his advisors have not staked out a position on the missile defence issue ever since a Polish statement was released stating that the matter had been decided.