Russia's recent tests of new ballistic missiles can be interpreted as a direct response to the deployment of the US missile system in Europe, and the development of new military bases on the continent, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
At a news conference after meeting with the Greek president in Kremlin, Putin spoke about the cooperation between the two countries and condemned US missile defense systems in Europe.
"We are not the initiators of this new round of the arms race ," Putin told a joint Kremlin news conference.
"There is no need to fear Russia's actions, they are not aggressive... They are aimed at maintaining balance in the world order, and are extremely important for maintaining peace and security globally," Putin said.
The president suggested recently that Moscow might suspend its obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty if talks with NATO countries on its implementation show no visible progress.
No NATO members have yet ratified the re-drafted CFE pact, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases in Georgia and Moldova under previous agreements.
Russia, concerned over Europe's refusal to ratify the re-drafted version of the accord, and acceptance by certain EU states of US missile shield plans on the continent, proposed on Monday holding an emergency CFE conference in Vienna on June 12-15.
"We are fully observing the provisions of the (CFE) treaty and have pulled out all heavy weaponry from the European part of Russia. We have reduced our armed forces by 300,000 personnel in the past few years, but what about our partners?" Putin said.
"They are inundating Eastern Europe with new weapons - a new base in Bulgaria, another base in Romania, a (missile interceptor) site in Poland , a radar in the Czech Republic," the president said. "What are we supposed to do? We cannot just observe all this and continue to keep our obligations under the treaty."
"There is a clear desire by some international players to dictate their will to everyone without adhering to international law," Putin said. "International law has been replaced by political reasons."
"In our opinion it is nothing different from diktat, nothing different from imperialism ," he added.
Putin stressed that the US unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, paving the way to the deployment of its missile shield in Europe.
Translated by Alexander Timoshik