MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has said U.S. President Barack Obama is willing to revive deadlocked talks on a planned U.S. missile shield in Europe, but that a military lobby in Congress and the "conservative" State Department are holding him back.
"Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if President Obama is re-elected for a second term? In principle, yes, it is," Putin told the RT international news channel in an interview.
"But this isn't just about President Obama," he said. "My feeling is that he is a sincere man and that he sincerely wants to implement positive change. But can he do it, will they let him do it? There is... the military lobby, and the Department of State, which is quite conservative."
Putin also stressed the need for dialogue on the controversial shield, but said he was "not sure" that Washington was "ready for this kind of cooperation."
Negotiations between Russia and the United States on the missile defense project have stalled over Washington's reluctance to give Moscow legally-binding guarantees that the shield will not be used against it. Washington and NATO say they need the shield to defend Europe against a possible missile attack from Iran. Russia says the project could pose a threat to its national security and has threatened a host of countermeasures.
In May, the Russian General Staff said it did not rule out a pre-emtrive strike against the U.S. shield in the event of an "aggravation of the situation."
The U.S. Democratic Party said in its 2012 national platform earlier this week that if re-elected, President Obama would "move forward" with the missile shield program regardless of Moscow's stance.
But Putin told the channel a unilateral move would "not enhance global stability." He added that Russia would "have to think of how we can defend ourselves" if the United States proceeded with the shield.
"You also have to think about its strategic character, it's built not for a year or even a decade," he said.
He also said chances that a figure like Obama's Republican challenger Mitt Romney - who famously described Russia as the United States' "number one geopolitical foe" - could come to power in the United States were "quite high."
"So what are we supposed to do to ensure our security?" he asked.
In 2010, Obama scrapped the previous George W Bush administration's plans to deploy an anti-ballistic missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, in a move welcomed by Moscow.
But Washington later announced it would be replaced by a reconfigured system that will eventually be deployed in the Mediterranean, Poland, Romania and Turkey.
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If attempts to drag Russia into a direct military conflict in Ukraine are successful, it would be a catastrophe for Russia comparable to the 1979-1989 Afghan war. There is no direct evidence that the US is trying to bring about a second Afghan war, but indirect evidence abounds.