President Dmitri Medvedev took advantage of the euphoria in America today to order the deployment of missiles inside Europe as a response to US plans for a missile defence shield.
Speaking within hours of Barack Obama’s election as the new US President, Mr Medvedev announced that Russia would base Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad next to the border with Poland.
He did not say whether the short-range missiles would carry nuclear warheads. Mr Medvedev also cancelled earlier plans to withdraw three intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia.
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“An Iskander missile system will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region to neutralise if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe,” Mr Medvedev said in his first state-of-the-nation address.
He added that Russia was also ready to deploy its navy and to install electronic jamming devices to interfere with the US shield, which involves the deployment of a radar station in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.
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His announcement prompted a burst of applause from government ministers and parliamentary deputies assembled in the Kremlin. The President failed to congratulate Mr Obama or even to mention him by name during his 85-minute state of the nation address televised live across Russia.
Instead, in a criticism directed at the US, Mr Medvedev declared: “Mechanisms must be created to block mistaken, egoistical and sometimes simply dangerous decisions of certain members of the international community.”