U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent criticism of Russia justifies Moscow’s approach toward the mooted American missile shield in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Two weeks ago Romney accused incumbent President Barack Obama of being a weak negotiator and caving into Russian pressure by “walking away” from plans to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Earlier in the year he called Russia the “number one geopolitical foe” for the United States.
“He [Romney] has once again confirmed the rectitude of our [Russian] approach to the issue of missile defense…He enhanced our negotiating positions on this sensitive and important issue,” Putin said.
Putin also said that the fact that Romney considers Russia an enemy “is a minus,” but he is grateful to Romney for his “frankness.”
“I am grateful that he forms his position so freely,” Putin said, adding that he is ready to work with Romney in case the latter wins this year’s presidential election.
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 counter the threat of missile attacks from Iran. Russia says the project could pose a threat to its national security and has threatened a host of countermeasures.