St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016

Now, about the missile defense system ... listen to me. We are all adults at this table. And experienced professionals at that. But I am not even going to hope that you are going to relay everything, exactly how I said it, in your publications. Neither will you attempt to influence your media outlets. I just want to tell you this, on a personal level. I must remind you, though you already know this, that major global conflicts have been avoided in the past few decades, due to the geostrategic balance of power, which used to exist.

The two super-nuclear powers essentially agreed to stop producing both offensive weaponry, as well as defensive weaponry. It's simple how it works - where one side becomes dominant in their military potential, they are more likely to want to be first, to be able to use such power. This is the absolute linchpin to international security. The anti-missle defense system [as previously prevented in international law], and all of the surrounding agreements used to exist. It's not my nature to scold someone - but when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty [of] 1972 they delivered a colossal blow to the entire system of international security. That was the first blow, when it comes to assessing the strategic balance of power in the world. At that time [2002] I said that we will not be developing such systems also because

  1. it is very expensive, and
  2. we aren't yet sure how they will work [for the Americans].

“We're not going to burn our money.” We're going to take a different option, and develop offensive weaponry, in order to retain said geo-strategic balance. That was all. Not to threaten somenone else.

They said - “Fine, our defense system is not against you, and we assume that your weaponry is not against us.”

“Do what you like.”

As I already mentioned, this conversation took place in the early 2000s. Russia was in a very difficult state at that time. Economic collapse, civil war and the fight against terrorism in the Caucasus region, complete destruction of our military-industrial complex. ... They wouldn't have been able to imagine that Russia could ever again be a military power. My guess is they assumed that even that which was left over from the Soviet Union would eventually deteriorate. So they said, “Sure. Do what you like!”.

But we told them about the reactionary measures we were going to take. And that is what we did. And I assure you - that today, we have had every success in that area. I am not going to list everything, all that matters is [that] we have modernized our military-industrial complex. And we continue to develop new generation warfare. I'm not even going to mention systems against the missile-defense system! No matter what we said to our American partners [to curb the production of weaponry] they refused to cooperaate with us, they rejected our offers, and continue to do their own thing. Some things I cannot tell you right now publicly, I think that would be rude of me. And whether or not you believe me, we offered real solutions to stop this [arms race]. They rejected everything we had to offer.

So here we are today - and they've placed their missile system in Romania. Always saying, “We must protect ourselves from the Iranian nuclear threat!” Where's the threat? There is no Iranian threat. You even have an agreement with them - and the US was the instigator of this agreement, where we helped. We supported it. But if not for the US then this agreement would not exist, which I consider Obama's achievement. I agree with the agreement, because it eased tensions in the area. So President Obama can put this in his list of achievements. So the Iranian threat does not exist. But missile defense systems are continuing to be positioned ... That means that we were right when we said that they are lying to us. Their reaasons were not genuine, in reference to the “Iranian nuclear threat.” Once again they lied to us.

So they built this system, and now they are being loaded with missiles. You. as journalists, should know that these missiles are put into capsules. Which are utilised from sea-based, mid-range, Tomahawk rocket launchers. These are being loaded with “anti-missiles” that can penetrate distances of up to 500 km. But we know that technologies advance ... We even know in which year the Americans will accomplish a new missile, which will be able to penetrate distances of up to 1000 km, and then even further ... And from that moment on they will be able to directly threaten Russia's nuclear potential. We know year by year what's going to happen - and they know that we know! It's only you that they tell tall-tales to, and you spread it to the citizens of our countries. Your people, in turn, do not feel a sense of the impending danger - this is what worries me. How can you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? That's the problem.

Meanwhile they pretend that nothing's going on ... I don't know how to get through to you anymore. And they justify this as a “defense” system, not weaponry that is used for the purposes of an offense. Systems that “prevent aggression”. This is absolutely not true. A missile defense system is one element of the whole system of offensive military potential. It works as part of a whole that includes offensive missile launchers. One complex blocks, the other launches a high precision weapon, the third blocks a potential nuclear strike, and the fourth sends out its own nuclear waepon in response. This is all designed to be part of one system. This is how it works in current, non-nuclear, but high precision missile defense systems.

Well, OK, let's put aside the actual missile 'defense' issue. But those capsules into which 'anti-missiles' are inserted, as I've mentioned, they are sea-based. On warships which can carry the Tomahawk subsonic cruise missile system. One could deploy it to position in a matter of hours, and then what kind of 'anti-missile' system is that? How de we know what kind of missile is in there? All you have to do is change the programme! (non-nuclear to nuclear) That's all it would take. This would happen very quickly, and even the Romanian govenment itself won't know what's going on. Do you think they let the Romanians call any shots? Nobody is going to know what is being done - not the Romanians, and the Polish won't either. Do you think I am not familiar with their strategies? Ha!

From what I can see, we are in grave danger. We had a conversation once with out American partners - where they said they'd like to develop ballistic missiles, bu without a nuclear warhead. And we said - “Do you actually understand what that might entail?” So you're going to have missiles launching from submarines, or ground territories - this is a ballistic missile, how de we know whether or not it has a nuclear warhead?! Can you even imagine what kind of scenario you can create? But as far as I am aware, they did not go through with developing these weapons - they have paused for now. But the other one they continue to implement.

I don't know how all this is going to end. What I do know is that we will need to defend ourselves. And I even know how they will package this - “Russian aggression” again! But this is simply our response to your actions. Is it not obvious that I must guarantee the safety of our people? And not only that, but [that] we must attempt to retain the necessary strategic balance of power, which is the point that I began with. Let me return to it, in order to finish my response.

It was precisely this balance of power that guaranteed the safety of humanity from major global conflict, over the past 70 years. It was a blessing rooted in “mutual threat” but this mutual threat is what guaranteed mutual peace, on a global scale. How they could so easily tear it down, I simply do not know. I think this is gravely dangerous. I not only think that, I am assured of it.

Munich Security Conference, 2007

Sure, “the United States are not developing weapons for the purposesof an offensive weapon” ... At least not that which is in the public eye, although we know for certain that this is occuring. I'm not about to get into asking that right now - we're perfectly aware that it is happening. I'm going to pretend for a minute that I don't know about it. “Okay, you're not developing it!”

But the facts are; ther is an anti-missile defense system being developed in the United States. Sure, today it is not in working order and we're not yet sure if it ever will be implemented ... However, theoretically, it is created in order to be implemented.

Again, hypothetically - we understand that there will be a moment in time where our nuclear potential will be completely neutralized. Our current nuclear capability I mean, can be completely neutralised by this anti-missile defense system. If this is the case then that means the balance of power in the world will be completely upset. This means that one of the powers will feel a complete sense of security. Which, in turn, means it can do whatever it likes not only in regional conflicts - but, now, we are talking about its unmatched might in global conflict.

This is only food for thought, don't let me come off like I am accusing you of something. But Intenational Relations is much like mathematics - there is nothing personal about it.

Therefore we will respond accordingly - but how? We can match you in your actions and build an equally great multi-million dollar anti-missile defense system ... Or, taking into account our economic and financial capability in the present day - we can respond asymmetrically ... So that it is clear to all that,

“Yes there is an anti-missile defense system [in Europe] - but as it relates to Russia, it is essentially pointless ...”

Because we have a weapon that can simply nullify it. This is the path that we are going to take. It works out cheaper for us.

But in no way is this “aggression against the United States”. I fully mirror your behavior when you say that your anti-missile defense system “is not targeted against us” - then our new weapn is “not targeted agaisnt you” either!