AFP/Reuters – 2008-07-09 08:46:57
Russia Threatens to ‘React’ Against US Missile Shield
(July 8, 2008) — Russia has threatened to react with “military resources” if a US anti-missile shield is set up near its borders, according to a foreign ministry statement.
“If a US strategic anti-missile shield is deployed near our borders, we will be forced to react not in a diplomatic fashion but with military resources,” the statement said.
“There is no doubt that the grouping of elements of the strategic US arsenal faced towards Russian territory” could lead Moscow to “take adequate measures to face the threats to its national security,” it added.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday signed a missile defence deal with the Czech Republic permitting the siting of a tracking radar station on Czech soil.
It is part of an extended US missile shield that Washington says is necessary to ward off potential attacks by so-called “rogue” states such as Iran.
The US insists that the missile defence shield is designed to ward off threats in the Middle east rather than in Russia.
Responding to the statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Pentagon also said the United States has made robust offers to collaborate with Moscow on the system.
“We have been very clear about what the missile defense system in Europe is for. It is not designed to counter a threat from Russia,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
“We’ve been very clear about the emerging threat in the Middle East that we think could threaten not only the United States but our allies in Europe.”
The United States wants the radar twinned with interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland, although negotiations with Warsaw have becomed bogged down with Polish demands for additional security guarantees.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday clashed with US President George W Bush over missile defence at their first face-to-face meeting, during a G8 summit in Japan.
“There are topics on which we are making progress, such as Iran and North Korea, there are topics on which we diverge, such as the missile shield and European matters, but there are possibilities for agreement,” Mr Medvedev said.
Russia is opposed to having the US missile shield on its doorstep.
Analysts say the Russians fear not only a potential long-term threat to their own nuclear deterrent and the security of their airspace but also associate the shield with NATO’s prospective enlargement to include the former Soviet states of Ukraine and Georgia.
Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in February, when he was still president, that Moscow would point its missiles towards Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic if the NATO enlargement or the proposed US missile shield got under way.
Controversial US-Czech Missile Deal Signed
(July 9, 2008) — US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has signed a deal to base part of Washington’s controversial missile defence system in the Czech Republic.
The treaty will pave the way for a tracking radar system to be set up, but the plan remains unpopular in the Czech Republic.
A second deal covering the status of US soldiers there has not been agreed on.
The US has also failed to reach agreement with Poland on housing other parts of the system there.
Russia is strongly opposed to the plan, saying it will pose a threat to its own security.
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