Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Putin warns foes against instability

NEW MISSILES Russia is set to upgrade its missile forces with the arrival of the Topol-M, a weapon with a range of 10,000km that can be launched from a mobile platform

AGENCIES , MOSCOW

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Russia’s foes on Friday against trying to destabilize a country facing broadening economic crisis, Russian news agencies reported.

Putin did not specify who might pose a threat to Russia’s stability. But in the past, he has often blamed Western security services of trying to destabilize the country using opposition groups and NGOs as their instruments.

“Any attempts to weaken or destabilize Russia or harm the interests of the country will be toughly suppressed,” they quoted Putin as telling an annual meeting of top spies and security officers ahead of their professional holiday.

Putin, who was Russian president from 2000 to this year, has contributed greatly to the growth of influence of Russia’s FSB federal security service, a successor of the Soviet-era KGB.

Many ex-KGB officers became key government and regional officials during his presidency, forming a power base that largely remained intact after Putin handed over power to his successor Dmitry Medvedev in May.

Critics say that under Putin, security services have become excessively influential and expressed fears Russia could one day become a police state.

Analysts say the role of the security services is likely to grow even further as Russia plunges into an economic crisis marked by rising unemployment and financial woes that threaten the popularity of the government.

Meanwhile, Russia’s weapons arsenal is set to be bolstered by the arrival of new missiles with a range of 10,000km on Wednesday, the country’s strategic missile forces said on Friday.

The Topol-M, a three-stage ballistic missile that can be deployed on both stationary and mobile launch platforms, is designed to destroy heavily protected targets, Interfax news agency said.

The introduction of the new missile comes as the military seeks to phase in newer weapons to replace Soviet-era war horses like the Stiletto and shake up Russia’s armed forces to make it more dynamic.

Meanwhile, a Russian general said on Friday that Moscow is ready to abandon plans for a wholesale renewal of its nuclear missile arsenal if the US stops deployment of a controversial missile shield.

Moscow describes US plans — spearheaded by outgoing US President George W. Bush — to deploy an anti-missile radar facility in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland as a threat to its national security.

However, the US insists its missile shield is not directed against Russia and is instead meant to protect against “rogue states” like Iran.

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