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Terrorism & Security

Putin threatens to aim missiles at Ukraine

The Russian president warns of a new arms race over Ukraine's NATO membership and possible hosting of US missile defense shield.

By Julien Spencer / February 13, 2008

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to point the country's missiles at neighboring Ukraine if the country joins NATO and allows the United States to deploy its missile defense shield within its borders. Coming days after a hawkish speech in which Mr. Putin blamed the United States for sparking a new arms race, Putin's comments were the latest sign of rising tensions with the West as Russia reasserts itself on the world stage.

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At a press conference in Moscow with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Putin warned of retaliatory actions, reports The Washington Post.

According to the Associated Press, the "warning was Putin's strongest to date about Kiev's efforts to join the Western alliance."

Yushchenko, for whom joining the Western alliance is a priority, responded by asserting Ukraine's independence to act as it pleases, while seeking to soothe Russian worries, reported England's Daily Telegraph.

But, on Wednesday, Yushchenko urged parliament to take constitutional action to prevent NATO military bases should it receive NATO membership, reports Russia's state-run RIA Novosti.

The Russian threat comes days after Putin warned of a new arms race, provoked by Western military expansion in eastern European countries traditionally within Russia's sphere of influence.

In a televised speech last Friday, less than a month before the election that will see Putin hand power to his chosen successor, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the outgoing President warned against interference in Russia's neighborhood, reports the International Herald Tribune:

Putin has long opposed the expansion of the US missile defense system. The system has been primarily aimed at threats from states such as North Korea and Iran, and not Russia, according to a 2007 presentation overview by the United States Missile Defense Agency. The project's stated strategic objective is to


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