Son of Star Wars Won't Work Insists Putin; Russia May Strengthen Nuclear Arsenal

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), June 20, 2001 | Go to article overview

Son of Star Wars Won't Work Insists Putin; Russia May Strengthen Nuclear Arsenal


Russian President Vladimir Putin said he and George W. Bush reached a "very high level" of trust, during their weekend summit - but warned that Russia would strengthen its nuclear arsenal, if the US developed missile defences that undermined key security treaties.

He also insisted that Bush's proposed missile defence shield - the so-called Son of Star Wars - would never work.

"It's like a bullet hitting a bullet. Is it possible today or not? Today experts say that it is impossible to achieve this," Putin said.

Putin said the US president was a "very attentive listener" during the meeting in Slovenia. Putin said he was pleased the US no longer considered Russia an enemy.

The mini-summit was the first between Bush and Putin, and the meeting the Kremlin had arduously pursued was a prize for Putin. The globe-trotting Russian leader had visited China just before Slovenia and made lightning stops in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and Kosovo.

While acknowledging Russia is not an equal partner in the relationship with the US, Putin seemed confident and optimistic about Russia's future and pleased by Bush's assessment he was a man who could be trusted.

"It seemed to me the words that we said during the press conference were not just formal statements," Putin said. "They reflected a high level of trust between the two of us. I must say that the president is a nice person to talk to."

Putin said he and Bush agreed to work together to identify security threats. …

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