Putin to Meet Bush in Beijing After Missile Warning
By Henry Meyer and Sebastian Alison
Soviet-era Tupolev TU-160
July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will meet U.S. President George W. Bush next month after Russia warned it would respond militarily to U.S. plans to deploy a missile-defense system in eastern Europe. Putin will hold talks with Bush on the sidelines of the Olympic Games' opening ceremonies in Beijing, the Russian prime minister's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said today by telephone in Moscow. The Olympics will open on Aug. 8.
Russia may send military aircraft back to bases in Cuba in response to the U.S. missile-defense plans, Izvestiya reported today, citing an unidentified ``highly placed source.'' The government said on July 8 that it would react with ``military- technical'' means to the U.S. system, which it said threatens Russia's security. Russian leaders threatened to aim nuclear missiles at the planned bases in the Czech Republic and Poland.
"The rhetoric is going to get real hard,'' Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based independent defense analyst, said by phone. ``Negotiations on the bases will be on hold until new leaders appear in Washington and they figure out what do to.''
Bush, who steps down as president in January, made no progress toward resolving differences on the missile shield during his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the G-8 summit in Japan earlier this month.
White Swan, Bear
Izvestiya said both the supersonic Tu-160, a nuclear bomber known as ``White Swan,'' and the strategic bomber Tu-95, known to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the ``Bear,'' are capable of flying as far as Cuba. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky said he hadn't read the report and declined comment.
The Czech Republic and the U.S. signed an agreement on July 8 to host a radar tracking station. Interceptor missiles would be based in Poland, which is still in negotiations with the U.S.
The Polish Foreign Ministry today denied talks with the U.S. had broken down over Poland's demands for additional security guarantees in return for housing the base after U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried held talks with Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski this morning.
"Negotiations are definitely continuing,'' said ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski by phone.
The U.S. says the system is needed to defend against the threat of missile attack from Iran. Russia insists the U.S. aims to blunt the Russian nuclear capability by building the bases on its borders.
Putin, who was Russia's president for eight years, has retained a powerful role as prime minister since handing the presidency in May to his chosen successor, Medvedev.
To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at email@example.com; Sebastian Alison in Moscow at at salison1