Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Terrorism threatens strategic stability -Putin
By Jon Boyle

MOSCOW, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told his military chiefs on Monday that terrorists were seeking to obtain weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to strategic stability.

At an annual meeting with armed forces commanders, Putin said the military had to take the fast-changing global situation into account when drawing up policy priorities.

With Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov and armed forces chief of staff Anatoly Kvashnin in attendance, Putin said it was time to stop talking about military reform and start work on boosting the training and readiness of Russia's creaking armed forces.

He also vowed to find cash to boost army pay and build homes for servicemen whatever the economic situation. Falling world oil prices are slashing federal budget revenues.

"An analysis of the rapidly changing situation shows that we correctly defined the nature of the new threats to Russia's national security," Putin said in comments broadcast on television.

"Terrorism threatens not just individual states but the entire system of strategic stability. We know, like you, that the aim of the terrorists is to obtain weapons of mass destruction. Bioterrorism has already become a fact."

The Russian leader was speaking within hours of leaving for his first official visit to the United States.

Moscow says the September 11 attacks on U.S. landmarks, which left some 4,500 people dead or missing, vindicated its view that the "international terrorism" it is battling in its rebel Chechnya province is a greater threat to the globe than missiles from so-called rogue states.

"The evolution of international terrorism which today is clear to everyone...shows that our activities in Chechnya were right, timely and well-founded," he said.

Putin's staunch support for the war on terrorism launched by U.S. President George W. Bush in the wake of the September attacks, have seen Western states soften their criticism of Russia's two-year war in Chechnya.

Bush has used the missile menace it perceives from states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea to justify his plans for a system to shoot down incoming missiles.

Since entering the White House in January, the U.S. leader has pushed ahead with the project, even at the cost of antagonising Russia, which holds the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile arms control treaty dear.

Nevertheless, Putin told U.S. journalists at the weekend that he was very optimistic that the two sides could reach a compromise on missile defence and related cuts in nuclear arsenals.

He added that he thought it unlikely that Osama bin Laden -- chief suspect in the September strikes against the United States -- possessed weapons of mass destruction as he had claimed in an interview with a leading Pakistani newspaper.

The Russian leader said he was certain such weapons could not have come from Russia or former Soviet states, but that the threat "must not be ignored," given bin Laden's links to radical circles in Pakistan, a nuclear power.

Back to the Top    Next Article