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Russia to safeguard its interests outside military blocs - Ivanov

 Russia will safeguard its national interests without creating any military blocs, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Sunday.

Ivanov who spoke at an international conference on security in Munich said that Russia had opted for developing multi-vector cooperation with different countries of the world, instead of creating any military blocs or becoming involved in open confrontation with its opponents.

A new strategic arms reduction pact expected to replace START-I, which expires in December 2009, should stipulate the reduction of strategic arms by all the countries of the nuclear club, Ivanov said.

The START-I treaty was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union on July 31, 1991, five months before the U.S.S.R. collapsed, and remains in force between the U.S., Russia, and three other ex-Soviet states.

The three former Soviet republics, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, have since disposed of all their nuclear weapons or transferred them to Russia, and the U.S. and Russia have reduced the number of delivery vehicles to 1,600, with no more than 6,000 warheads. The current treaty is set to expire on December 5, 2009.

"Today there are several nuclear powers in the world and the number of countries with substantial missile potential is even greater. All of them, and not only Russia and the U.S., should realize their share of responsibility for maintaining strategic stability," Ivanov said.

Ivanov also said that Russia was against Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo setting a precedent for other separatist regions.

Ivanov said that if the European Union recognized the independence of Kosovo, then it should recognize, for example, the independence of Northern Cyprus occupied by Turkey.

The Albanian-dominated Serbian province of Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Albanian and Serb forces in 1999.

Most Western states back the volatile area's drive for independence, and recently agreed that Kosovo's status would be determined by the European Union and NATO. Russia insists that Belgrade and Pristina continue to seek a compromise.

Kosovo's recently elected prime minister, Hashim Thaci, earlier said Pristina's independence was an accomplished fact and would be declared as soon as the United States and the European Union were ready to recognize it.

RIA Novosti


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