Medvedev Confronts U.S. on Missile Shield After Obama Victory

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) — Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said he would deploy new missiles in Europe, confronting the U.S. on the day Barack Obama was declared the winner in America’s presidential election.

Medvedev said he would place a short-range missile system designed to carry conventional warheads in Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, wedged between Poland and Lithuania.

“An Iskander rocket system will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region to neutralize the missile-defense system if necessary,” Medvedev said, referring to U.S. plans to place elements of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Medvedev blamed the U.S. for failure to coordinate its economic policy with other countries so that a “local” crisis turned into a global one, leading to “a fall on the markets of the whole planet.” He also renewed his assertion that the U.S. provoked the war between Russia and Georgia in August.

The Russian leader was addressing lawmakers in the annual state-of-the-nation address in the Kremlin. While not mentioning Obama by name, Medvedev highlighted areas of tension in the Russia-U.S. relationship, which has been frayed in recent months by the planned missile shield, the war in Georgia and Russian recognition of two breakaway regions, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s eastward expansion.

Medvedev also chose the day when the eyes of the world were concentrated on the U.S. to propose extending the president’s term in office to six years from four.

`Good Term’

“I’m not talking about constitutional reform, but about corrections to the constitution,” Medvedev said. “About amendments that are important, but all the same aimed at making it more precise, not touching on the political or legal essence of existing institutions.”

Russian presidents are now limited to two consecutive four- year terms. Putin, as president from 2000 until May of this year, strengthened the office by centralizing power. He became Medvedev’s prime minister, and will be eligible to run in the next presidential contest.

“Increasing the term is timely,” Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told reporters after Medvedev’s speech in Moscow today. “It will allow the economy to work in a more stable manner. Six years is a good term.”

Medvedev said members of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, should have their terms extended to five years from four, and that the government should report to parliament on an annual basis.


On the global financial crisis, Medvedev said the U.S., the European Union and the so-called BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — must work together to create an economic system that will be “more fair and more secure.” He added that “we must radically reform the political and economic systems. Russia, at all events, will insist on this.”

Medvedev’s calls for a new global order come after the worst month for Russian investors in a decade. The 50-stock RTS Index dropped 36 percent in October, the biggest monthly decline since the government devalued the ruble and defaulted on domestic debt in 1998. Investors have withdrawn about $140 billion from Russia in the last three months, according to BNP Paribas SA.

Medvedev began his address in the Kremlin by blaming the U.S. for Russia’s five-day war with Georgia in August, which followed attempts by President Mikheil Saakashvili to take by force the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

“The barbaric aggression against South Ossetia” was encouraged by the U.S. and Russia’s military response was used by NATO as an excuse to send warships to the Black Sea, Medvedev said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sebastian Alison in Moscow at [email protected]; Lyubov Pronina in Moscow at [email protected]

Last Updated: November 5, 2008 06:48 EST
By Sebastian Alison and Lyubov Pronina

Source: Bloomberg

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