Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday
blamed U.S. policy for inciting other countries to seek nuclear weapons to
defend themselves from an "almost uncontained use of military force" ¡ª a
stinging attack that underscored growing tensions between Washington and
actions have not solved a single problem, they have become a hotbed of further
conflicts," Putin said at a security forum attracting senior officials from
around the world.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin
makes a point during his speech at the Bayerischer Hof hotel during the
43rd Conference on Security Policy in Munich, February 10, 2007.
"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every
The Bush administration said it was "surprised and disappointed" by Putin's
remarks. "His accusations are wrong," said Gordon Johndroe, Bush's national
In what the Russian leader's spokesman acknowledged was his harshest
criticism of the United States, Putin attacked Bush's administration for stoking
a new arms race by planning to deploy a missile defense system in eastern Europe
and for backing a U.N. plan that would grant virtual independence to Serbia's
breakaway province of Kosovo.
Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., who was also attending
the conference, described Putin's remarks as "the most aggressive speech from a
Russian leader since the end of the Cold War."
The United States and an increasingly assertive Russia repeatedly have butted
heads during the past year, with Vice President Dick Cheney accusing Moscow of
using its energy resources as "tools of intimidation or blackmail." Washington
also has been angered by Russia's reluctance to impose meaningful sanctions
against Iran, which is accused of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the
cover of a civilian atomic energy program.
But Putin said it was "the almost uncontained hyper use of force in
international relations" that was forcing countries opposed to Washington to
seek to build up nuclear arsenals.
"It is a world of one master, one sovereign ... it has nothing to do with
democracy," he said. "This is nourishing the wish of countries to get nuclear
"This is very dangerous, nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide
behind international law," Putin told the gathering.
Putin did not mention the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, but he voiced concern
about NATO's expansion plans as possible challenges to Russia.
"The process of NATO expansion has nothing to do with modernization of the
alliance or with ensuring security in Europe," Putin said. "On the contrary, it
is a serious factor provoking reduction of mutual trust."
On the missile defense system, Putin said: "I don't want to accuse anyone of
being aggressive" but suggested it would seriously change the balance of power
and could provoke an unspecified "asymmetric" response.
On Kosovo, Moscow has said a solution imposed against Serbia's consent could
serve as a model for other separatist provinces elsewhere in the world.
Washington, which supports Kosovo's independence, maintains that the Kosovo
situation is a "one-off" because the province has been under U.N. rule since
1999 when Serb forces were ejected following a brief aerial war with NATO.