Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of total disarmament in the near future. Responding to a student during an interactive session at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here, he said that the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was gradually decreasing.
“The United States and Russia have signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and American President Obama is convincing lawmakers in the U.S. to ratify it. If they don't agree, then even Russia will not ratify the treaty,” he confirmed. He said that humans were intelligent enough to say no to or minimise the use of weapons.
The Russian President spent over an hour fielding questions from students on Indian democracy, Pakistan and nuclear disarmament among other issues.
In response to a question on WikiLeaks, Mr. Medvedev said that the question did not surprise him since it was a hot topic now and WikiLeaks had both plus and minus points. On the minus side, he said diplomacy was a quiet activity and everything need not be made public so quickly. If things were made public say 50 or 100 years from now, it did not hamper anyone. However, it was all coming out now and sometimes tough, dramatic and unpopular decisions were taken and harsh language was used which could be hurtful to partner countries, he felt.
On the plus side, he said that in the long term it could lead to a more open society.
To a question if Russia would have been a superpower had the USSR not disintegrated, he said that he would not like anyone using the term superpower and any attempt at becoming one was counterproductive. The former USSR had the illusion of being independent and self-sufficient and that it did not need anyone to develop. However, he said that the USSR was successful in scientific research, especially in defence, but it was out of contact with the rest of the world. Internally, the country weakened. He was for a strong Russia both on the social and economic fronts. Now the world was talking of a multi-polar society and even Mr. Obama had endorsed that, he pointed out.
He reiterated that Russia would support India for a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council. However, it was not an easy task and a consensus was required, and common ground had to be established, he said.
Partners in defence
Mr. Medvedev underscored the special relations with India and said Russia was ready to help in India's fight against terror with weapons and technology. Both countries were strategic partners in security and defence. The President said that post-26/11, he had discussed the issue of terrorism with the Indian Prime Minister and offered all assistance to tackle terror.
To a hypothetical question on what he would do if Russia was attacked in a 26/11 manner and if he knew Pakistan was responsible, he said that he would not like to link it to any specific country, but he would defend the interests of Russia and deploy armed forces to protect the people and save lives. In Georgia, for instance, in 2008, 50 people were killed in armed aggression. However, he said if there was an opportunity for compromise it should be tapped by using various means such as an extradition treaty and not by resort to force unless peaceful means were exhausted.
Mr. Medvedev was also optimistic about restoring ties with Georgia. Speaking on relations with other countries, he said he had good relations with Iran, including in nuclear cooperation, but he favoured that country being open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency .
Everyone agreed that Iran had the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and the six-party talks that were under way were successful and Iran should cooperate and allow inspection, he felt.
Regarding a question on the delays in the deal involving Admiral Gorshkov, the Russian aircraft carrier, he said there were technical and commercial reasons for it and the delivery was prolonged but it had nothing to do with India-U.S. relations or the jealousy factor.
Earlier, Mr. Medvedev visited the Centre for Research in Nanotechnology Sciences, considered to be the best in the country. He took a short tour of the Centre accompanied by Ramgopal Rao, head of the department. He was keenly interested in two inventions — one an explosives detection device which could replace the sniffer dog and another, a low-cost device which could detect heart attacks in a timely manner. He also expressed keenness in Indian and Russia cooperating on education and student exchange, apart from joint scientific research — especially in nanotechnology.
IIT Bombay director Dewang Khakhar said that the institution's inception had a close connection with Russia and it had great interest in renewing ties with technologists from that country and taking part in the exchange of students. Leonid Brezhnev, former USSR president, had visited IIT Mumbai in 1961 and even planted an Asoka tree on the campus.