US President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that Russia did not pose a threat to Europe despite a vow to target the continent if the US deploys a missile shield in central Europe.
"Russia is not going to attack Europe," Bush told reporters at the start of a G8 summit on the Baltic coast.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will come face to face with Bush at the summit, has said Russia will resume its Cold War stance of targeting its missiles at Europe if Washington goes ahead with the planned shield near Russia's borders.
Asked if the US military should respond in some way to Putin's warning, Bush said that was not needed.
"As I said on Tuesday, Russia is not an enemy. There needs to be no military response because we are not at war with Russia," Bush said in a round table interview with reporters traveling with him.
Bush acknowledged that US relations with Russia, which observers say have been brought to their lowest point in years by differences over the missile shield, were "complex."
"I think if you look at the history of our relationship, there have been moments where we've agreed and moments where we've disagreed," he said.
But he said he hoped to use the summit, including a bilateral meeting with Putin on Thursday, to soothe Russian concerns.
"I will continue to work with President Putin -- Vladimir Putin -- to explain to him that this (the missile shield) is not aimed at him," Bush said.
Asked if the meeting with Putin would be tense, Bush said: "I'll work to see to it, that it's not (tense)."
Washington wants to site elements of its planned missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. It says the systems are needed to defend against possible missile attacks from what it calls "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.
The Kremlin is fiercely opposed to the plan, saying the shield upsets the global strategic balance. Putin has voiced suspicions that the project is really targeted at Russia.
Differences over the dispute could overshadow a G8 summit that the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had intended to focus on climate change and aid to Africa.
Bush, who arrived in Germany on Tuesday, stood by his position that the missile shield was necessary and a response to real threats.
"I think it's important to make sure we have a system to protect ourselves against the threats of the 21st century -- the true threats."
"The system exists in the first place to deal with threats. That's why it needs to go forward," said Bush.
Putin's threat to point Russian missiles at targets in Europe is a powerful symbol of growing tension with the West but it has limited practical significance.
Since the Cold War ended, Russia has not been explicitly pointing its arsenal at locations in Europe. Yet even before Putin issued his warning, re-aiming missiles to target a particular site could be done in a matter of minutes.