KORENOVSK - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday promised an "appropriate reaction" to US-backed missile defense plans for Europe ahead of his first meeting with President Barack Obama since his return to the Kremlin last month.

In a series of remarks at an air base in southern Russia, Putin, who is also commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces, set out his by now familiar opposition to the missile plans, complaining they risked undermining Russia's own nuclear deterrent.

"It would be better if our partners did not do this, because actions that could lead to the devaluation of our strategic nuclear capability will unavoidably provoke an appropriate reaction," he said.

"Whatever you call it, this has some elements of an arms race."

The issue is one of the main irritants to US-Russia relations.

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