Tensions between the U.S. and Russia flare before the G8 Summit

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

A working session at the G8 Summit in Strelna, Russia, July 16, 2006.

Ahead of the G8 summit next week, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. starting an arms race and called it an "imperial power." "We are not the initiators of this new round of the arms race," Putin said during a joint Kremlin news conference.

On Tuesday, Russia test-fired a new missile with multiple warheads and a new cruise missile, which Russian generals say are sufficient to ensure the country's security for the next 40 years.

President Putin defended the missile technology saying that it is: "aimed at maintaining the balance of forces in the world."

Putin, alarmed by U.S. plans to deploy parts of its global missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic said: "There is a clear desire by some international players to dictate their will to everyone without adhering to international law," Putin said. "International law has been replaced by political reasons."

"In our opinion it is nothing different from diktat, nothing different from imperialism," he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice fired back saying Russia's fears are "ludicrous." The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov responded to Rice's claims by saying that "There is nothing ludicrous about it"

Putin, who has been faulted both in Russia and abroad for curtailing civic freedoms, is in his second term as President of Russia. The term will expire in 2008.

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