June 5, 2007 — -- President Bush came out swinging on the missile defense issue this morning, stating emphatically that Russia is not an enemy and that it has nothing to fear from a U.S. missile defense system in eastern Europe.
"The Cold War is over. It ended," he said in an appearance in Prague with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that a return to the Cold War is exactly what will happen if the proposed missile defense system is put in place, going so far as to warn the United States that if plans continue, Russia will turn its own missiles toward Europe.
The missile defense site the United States wants to build would have a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptors in Poland. U.S. officials say the site is meant to protect European allies from rogue nations, Iran among them, not Russia.
"That's a true threat to peace," he said.
Bush said he will convey his thoughts directly to Putin when they meet at the G-8 summit in Germany this week.
"[M]y message will be: 'Vladimir -- I call him Vladimir -- you shouldn't fear a missile defense system,'" Bush said. "As a matter of fact, why don't you cooperate with us on a missile defense system? Why don't you participate with the U.S.? Please send your generals over to see how such a system will work, send your scientists and let us have the ability discuss this issue in an open forum where it will be completely transparent."
Bush said the United States doesn't believe in a "zero sum world" where a country has to choose its allies.
"The people of the Czech Republic don't have to choose between being a friend with the U.S. or a friend with Russia -- you can be both," he said.
ABC's Martha Raddatz contributed to this report.