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Criticizing NATO, Putin Underlines Need for Nuclear Deterrence


Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on weapons modernization plans in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 10, 2014.

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday Russia must maintain its nuclear deterrence because of what he described as a growing number of possible security threats, and blamed the West for the crisis in Ukraine, which he said is being used to "resuscitate" NATO.

Speaking in Moscow during a government meeting on future weapons programs, Putin called for "a reliable and complete estimate" of potential military threats and said a "sufficient, adequate response" would be found to each.

He cited, among other things, U.S. missile defense systems in Europe and Alaska and what he called the "build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe."

NATO recently announced it is creating a "rapid-reaction" force, which President Barack Obama said will serve as a signal to Russia to avoid any future potential aggression similar to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists.

Blames NATO

Putin said the Ukraine crisis had been "provoked and created" by some of Russia's Western partners, and was being used to revive NATO. He said his government would take this into account in making decisions about Russian security.

Russian defense planning, he said, would focus on enhancing Russia's nuclear deterrent, upgrading strategic and long-range aviation, and continuing to develop a system of "aerospace defense."

Still, he said Russia would not be pulled into a new arms race.

Putin also signed a decree giving himself direct control over a military-industrial commission that oversees Russia's defense industry.

Shortly before he spoke, Russia successfully tested its new submarine-launched Bulava intercontinental missile, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Blames Ukraine for plane crash

Earlier Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukraine bears "full responsibility" for July's deadly crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 because the incident occurred in Ukrainian airspace.

Shoigu made his remarks during a meeting in Moscow with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Western governments have accused Russia of providing pro-Russian separatists with a surface-to-air missile battery that downed the plane in eastern Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied involvement.

All 298 people aboard the airline died in the July 17 crash.

A preliminary report released Tuesday on the incident said the plane broke up in midair over eastern Ukraine after being hit by many "high-energy objects" that penetrated it.