Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has visited a new radar station near St Petersburg, and warned it is merely the first stage in a new large-scale air defence programme. The Russian leader was given a tour of the site, which can track airborne objects from the North Pole to Africa.
It was the first public statement that Moscow aims to beef up its air defences, in response to American plans to build a missile shield near Russia’s borders. The President said: “This is the first step in a programme planned to be implemented by 2015. I am pleased to say that so far we have met all targets on time and using solely national material and intellectual resources”.
Washington wants to station missiles and a radar station in Poland and the Czech Republic as protection against rogue states like Iran. The Kremlin reacted furiously, saying it would threaten Russian sovereignty. Instead, Moscow offered to share a new radar facility in southern Russia.