Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Moscow’s strong opposition to the US missile defence system on Tuesday, saying that President Barack Obama’s re-election would not end the dispute and insisting on joint development of the shield.
“I think that the missile defence issue will not be solved regardless of whether Obama is elected or not,” he told reporters at the end of Group of 20 summit in Mexico.
“I think that something can radically change only in the case if the US agrees with our proposal which says that Russia, Europe and US were equal participants of this process,” said Putin.
Moscow says the interceptors that the United States and Nato are deploying as part of the system will be able to destroy Russian warheads in flight by about 2018, upsetting the post-Cold War balance of power.
Washington maintains that the missile defence system, which is to be deployed in four phases by about 2020, is intended to counter a potential threat from Iran and poses no risk to Russia.
Putin also called the controversial death of an anti-corruption lawyer in Russia a tragedy, but said Moscow would retaliate if the US Congress used the case to penalize Russians for alleged human rights abuses.
Speaking to reporters, Putin said Russia did not think the matter prompted by the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, 37, deserved the attention it was getting in Washington.
A US Senate committee plans to vote next week on a bipartisan proposal to deny visas and freeze assets of Russians linked to Magnitsky’s death after he spent a year in Russian jails.
Magnitsky worked for the equity fund Hermitage Capital in Moscow and his case spooked investors and blackened the nation’s image abroad.