U.S. missile defense “cannot stop” Russia's nuclear weapons, a top minister said, in an apparent reversal of Moscow's policy of slamming U.S. anti-ballistic missile capability as a dire threat to Russian security.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees Russia's military-industrial complex, boasted of unspecified breakthroughs in Russian military technology during a talk show on the state-run Rossiya 1 television channel on Sunday night.
“We will not disclose those technical details to anybody,” Rogozin said, according to comments quoted by Interfax news agency. “But I can tell you one thing: The work conducted today on combat missile technologies … shows that neither the current, nor even the projected American missile defense system could stop or cast doubt on Russia's strategic missile potential.”
U.S. missile defense has long been a sore point between Moscow and Washington. The United States in 2009 scrapped plans for missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech republic and switched focus to sea-based capability in part to mollify Russian opposition.
Russia had insisted that missile defense is a threat to its own security — a view aggressively advocated by Rogozin during his stint as Russia's ambassador to the U.S.-led NATO alliance from 2009 to 2011. The United States — and Western military analysts — maintained that the system is designed to protect it and its European allies from Iranian missiles, and that Russia was not a target.
Following Russia's annexation of Crimea last year, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from Indiana, asked at an April Senate hearing whether the United States should strengthen missile defenses in Europe in response to Russia having “invaded” the Ukrainian peninsula.