MOSCOW - Russia threatened on Wednesday to deploy missiles to target
the U.S. missile shield in Europe if Washington fails to assuage
Moscow’s concerns about its plans, a harsh warning that reflected deep
cracks in U.S.-Russian ties despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to
“reset” relations with the Kremlin.President Dmitry Medvedev said
he still hopes for a deal with the U.S. on missile defense, but he
strongly accused Washington and its NATO allies of ignoring Russia’s
worries. He said Russia will have to take military countermeasures if
the U.S. continues to build the shield without legal guarantees that it
will not be aimed against Russia.
The United Staets has repeatedly assured Russia
that its proposed missile defense system wouldn’t be directed against
Russia’s nuclear forces, and it did that again Wednesday.
“It’s worth reiterating that the European missile defense system that
we’ve been working very hard on with our allies and with Russia over
the last few years is not aimed at Russia,” said Capt. John Kirby, a
Pentagon spokesman. “It is … designed to help deter and defeat the
ballistic missile threat to Europe and to our allies from Iran.”
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the United States will
continue to seek Moscow’s cooperation, but it must realize “that the
missile defense systems planned for deployment in Europe do not and
cannot threaten Russia’s strategic deterrent.”
But Medvedev said Moscow will not be satisfied by simple declarations
and wants a binding agreement. He said, “When we propose to put in on
paper in the form of precise and clear legal obligations, we hear a
Medvedev warned that Russia will station missiles in its westernmost
Kaliningrad region and other areas, if the U.S. continues its plans
without offering firm and specific pledges that the shield isn’t
directed at its nuclear forces. He didn’t say whether the missiles would
carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was
“very disappointed” with Russia’s threat to deploy missiles near
alliance nations, adding that “would be reminiscent of the past and …
inconsistent with the strategic relations NATO and Russia have agreed
“Cooperation, not confrontation, is the way ahead,” Rasmussen said in a statement.
The U.S. missile defense dispute has long tarnished ties between
Moscow and Washington. The Obama administration has repeatedly said the
shield is needed to fend off a potential threat from Iran, but Russia
fears that it could erode the deterrent potential of its nuclear forces.
“If our partners tackle the issue of taking our legitimate security
interests into account in an honest and responsible way, I’m sure we
will be able to come to an agreement,” Medvedev said. “But if they
propose that we `cooperate,’ or, to say it honestly, work against our
own interests, we won’t be able to reach common ground.”
Moscow has agreed to consider a proposal NATO made last fall to
cooperate on the missile shield, but the talks have been deadlocked over
how the system should be operated. Russia has insisted that it should
be run jointly, which NATO has rejected.
Medvedev also warned that Moscow may opt out of the New START arms
control deal with the United States and halt other arms control talks,
if the U.S. proceeds with the missile shield without meeting Russia’s
demand. The Americans had hoped that the START treaty would stimulate
progress in further ambitious arms control efforts, but such talks have
stalled because of tension over the missile plan.
While the New START doesn’t prevent the U.S. from building new
missile defense systems, Russia has said it could withdraw from the
treaty if it feels threatened by such a system in future.
Medvedev reaffirmed that warning Wednesday, saying that Russia may
opt out of the treaty because of an “inalienable link between strategic
offensive and defensive weapons.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/69080.html#ixzz1eaYy6KzE
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