Russia will develop new offensive weapon systems to counter U.S. missile defences and keep American “aggressiveness” in check, said Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“Once they build a [missile] umbrella against our offensive systems our partners would feel totally safe,” said Mr. Putin at a meeting with local journalists in Vladivostok on Tuesday. “They will then do whatever they want [and] their aggressiveness will immediately increase both in politics and economy. The balance will be broken.”

Russia needs to develop attack weapons because offensive and defensive missile systems are closely linked and a balance between them “ensures a balance of power in the world” today, just as they did during the Cold War, Mr. Putin explained.

Mr. Putin’s remarks show that the linkage between strategic nuclear missiles and anti-missile defences remains a stumbling block in Russian-American talks on a new arms reduction treaty that would replace the 1991 START pact. “Let the Americans hand over all their information on missile defences and we are ready to hand over some information on [our] offensive weapons systems,” he said.

The U.S. would like to leave the issue of missile defences outside the purview of the new treaty. U.S. President Barack Obama has shelved controversial missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, but reconfirmed plans to build a global missile shield.

At the same time Washington insists on retaining intrusive control over Russian nuclear arsenals in line with the START treaty. However, Moscow wants to curtain the verification regime and kicked out U.S. military observers from its missile facilities after START expired on December 5.

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