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Russia contemplates response to US missile challenge: Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting with representatives of international news agencies on the sidelines of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 1, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the expansion of US missile systems across the world is a “challenge” to his country and necessitates Moscow’s response in the form of a military build-up in the region.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday, Putin said Russia cannot stand idly by while others increase their military capabilities along its borders in the Far East and Europe.
“They have elements in their ABM (anti-ballistic missile) system in Alaska and now in South Korea. Do we have to look at this helplessly and do the same in Eastern Europe? Of course not. We contemplate our response to this challenge,” Putin said.
He further noted that Moscow’s build-up in the Russian Far East, particularly the Kuril Islands in the Pacific Ocean, was not “Russia’s initiative,” but rather caused by concerns about the US military presence in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (4th from R) attends a meeting with representatives of international news agencies on the sidelines of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 1, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
The US used to justify the deployment of its missile systems in Europe using the alleged threat posed by Iran as a pretext, but the 2015 nuclear deal removed that excuse, Putin said.
Iran's nuclear agreement, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed between the Islamic Republic and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the US, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany -- on July 14, 2015. Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian president said the US was using the North Korea threat as a pretext to justify its missile deployment in Asia-Pacific.
“It’s not about North Korea. If tomorrow North Korea declares it is stopping nuclear tests and canceling its rocket program, the US will continue building its ABM system under some new pretext or without one at all,” Putin said, adding, “This issue (the US military build-up) is a major concern for us and we have been constantly voicing it for decades. This disrupts the strategic balance in the world. But the world is silent and nobody listens to us.”
Russophobia ‘counterproductive’
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian president said Russophobia in the West was related to the “emergence of a multi-polar world, which the monopolists dislike.”
He also expressed hope that the anti-Russian sentiment would "not last for too long, not forever, if only because the understanding has to come that it is counterproductive and harms everyone."
Putin further emphasized that attempts to deter Russia don't work.
Some countries have been taking measures against Russia such as economic restrictions aimed at “holding it back from defending its legitimate national interests…. And now they see that this practice doesn't work. It is counter-productive and has no effect at all,” he said.
'Russia not involved in hacking'
Putin also stated that the Russian government had never been involved in hacking activities, saying, "We don't engage in that at the state level."
He said "no hackers can influence election campaigns in any country of Europe, Asia or America."
The US government has accused Russia of hacking Democratic party emails to help the campaign of Republican President Donald Trump.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied the claims that Moscow tried to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
​Russia ready to sell S-400 to Turkey
In another part of the interview, Putin expressed Russia’s readiness to sell Turkey S-400 air missile defense systems, saying that he had already discussed the subject with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“We discussed the possibility of selling S-400s [to Turkey]. We are ready for this,” he said.
Turkey and Russia entered into discussions on the purchase of the S-400 system last November. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced in April that Ankara and Moscow had “agreed in principle” on a deal.
Russia’s S-400 air missile defense system is capable of engaging 36 targets simultaneously and shooting down aircraft at a range of 400 kilometers and ballistic missiles at a range of 60 kilometers.

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