NPR logo Putin Offers New Basing Options for Missile Shield

Putin Offers New Basing Options for Missile Shield

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that a U.S. anti-missile system could be based in Turkey, Iraq or on sea platforms, a day after he offered to locate the system in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

"They could be placed in the south, in U.S. NATO allies such as Turkey, or even Iraq," Putin said at a news conference after the close of the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. "They could also be placed on sea platforms."

The United States says the missile defense elements that it wants to place in Poland and the Czech Republic are aimed at intercepting possible attacks from Iran and North Korea.

Putin's proposal on missile defense interceptors followed his surprise suggestion Thursday to President Bush to share use of the huge Soviet-era radar at Gabala in northeast Azerbaijan, now leased by Russia.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Putin's offer of the radar in Azerbaijan caught the Bush administration off guard, but that it was worth looking into even while missile defense negotiations with Poland and the Czech Republic continue.

"One does not choose sites for missile defense out of the blue," she told The Associated Press. "It's geometry and geography as to how you intercept a missile."

Article continues after sponsorship

The latest proposals came after Putin spent weeks bitterly denouncing a U.S. proposal to build the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, to defend against a future missile threat from Iran.

As he spoke Friday, a man threw a handful of leaflets into the air, momentarily disrupting the briefing.

"Outstanding. Well done," Putin said to him in Russian. After asking the man for one of the leaflets, which accused the president of ruling like a czar, he added in German: "Now leave us in peace and give us time to answer."

The protester, 20-year-old Konstantin Schuckman, a German-Russian dual citizen, later accused Putin of trampling on democracy, citing recent crackdowns on dissent and on opposition marches.

It was not immediately clear how he reached the briefing at the summit site, which is secured by a seven-mile fence and a heavy police presence. Thousands of journalists and representatives of non-governmental organizations are accredited to attend the summit.

From The Associated Press