“Putin did not hesitate to say that if America continues pursuing its missile defense plans in Europe, serious conflicts may arise in bilateral relations, but Russia is not afraid of this”
The 8th annual summit of the Valdai Club closed with a three-hour-long meeting of the summit’s participants with the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who shared his views on a wide range of issues with the international experts and journalists.
, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation said that Valdai experts discussed a wide range of issues with Putin, including the global economic crisis, development of the oil and gas industry, and the planned resignation of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
“We received very detailed answers,” Cohen said. He regretted that Putin did not have enough time to discuss Russia’s relations with Iran. “He made a general statement about being concerned over the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But no one asked about the IAEA report about Iran obtaining nuclear technology and trying to make a nuclear bomb, so unfortunately, he didn’t talk about that,” Cohen added.
The expert was also concerned about Putin’s view of U.S. missile defense initiatives. “He continues to believe that the U.S. missile shield threatens Russia. In the United States, we are absolutely confident that this plan is not targeted at Russia. But Putin doesn’t seem to be convinced,” Cohen said.
Alexander Rahr , director of the Berthold Beitz Center at the German Council on Foreign Relations, agrees that Vladimir Putin warned that deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Europe may complicate Russian-U.S. relations.
“Putin did not hesitate to say that if America continues pursuing its missile defense plans in Europe, serious conflicts may arise in bilateral relations, but Russia is not afraid of this,” Rahr said.
“Putin believes everything could be much better because the reset has been launched and is doing surprisingly well,” Rahr noted. He added that “big battles with the next U.S. administration are in the offing.” He quoted Putin as saying that “this will be Russia’s main challenge from the West and the United States in the next few months.”
According to Rahr, Putin compared NATO’s recent military operation in Libya to the events in Kosovo 10 years ago. “How could they bomb Libya, destroy its entire military aviation, as was done in Kosovo, and finish off Gaddafi in this gruesome manner?” the prime minister asked rhetorically.
According to Natalia Narochnitskaya , director of the Paris office of the Russian Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, the meeting “certainly helped convey to Russia’s partners – political scientists, academics, and politicians – that Russia and its government are full of resolve to move forward, to go our own way despite the difficulties that they do not deny. We are not going to turn a blind eye to our flaws, but that does not give us an inferiority complex with respect to the West either. We are more than willing to learn from foreign experience while also realizing that no one could resolve our problems for us,” Narochnitskaya said.