Thursday, 5 March 2009
Russia is working on anti-satellite weapons to match technologies developed by other nations and will speed up modernization of its nuclear forces, a deputy defense minister was quoted as saying today.
The statement by Gen. Valentin Popovkin signaled the government’s intention to pursue its ambitious plans to strengthen the military despite the money crunch caused by a worsening financial crisis. He said the military will procure enough new missiles to deploy near Poland if the US goes ahead with its European missile defense plans.
Popovkin said Russia continues to oppose a space arms race but will respond to moves made by other countries, according to Russian news reports.
“We can’t sit back and quietly watch others doing that; such work is being conducted in Russia,” Popovkin was quoted as saying.
Russia already has some “basic, key elements” of such weapons, he said without elaboration.
Popovkin, who previously was the chief of Russian military Space Forces, reportedly made the statement at a news conference in response to a question about US and Chinese tests of anti-satellite weapons.
In February 2008, a US Navy ship launched a missile that hit a dying spy satellite. The test boosted the credibility of missile defense advocates. In 2007, China destroyed one of its own defunct satellites with a ballistic missile.
The Kremlin has criticized US plans for space-based weapons, saying they could trigger a new arms race. Russia and China have pushed for an international agreement banning space weapons, but their proposals have been rejected by the United States.
As part of missile defense plans developed by the previous US administration, the Pentagon worked on missiles, ground lasers and other technology to shoot down satellites.
George W. Bush’s administration plan to locate missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic put it at odds with Russia, which opposed the move as a threat to its security.
President Barack Obama has signaled that he might forgo an anti-missile system in Eastern Europe if Russia helps end a standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.