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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Russian Top Brass Slams US Missile Defense Plans for Europe

MosNews: The Russian military’s chief of general staff Wednesday harshly criticized U.S. plans to deploy components of its missile defense system in Europe, saying the move was aimed against Russia and would prompt it to take retaliatory measures, The Associated Press news agency reported.

Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky shrugged off U.S. arguments that a prospective missile defense site was intended to counter missile threats from such nations as North Korea and Iran, saying that neither would have a capability to threaten the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies in Europe in the foreseeable future, the ITAR-Tass, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies reported.

“The deployment of missile defense in Europe near Russian borders is an unfriendly move, to put it mildly,” Baluyevsky said. “Its interception range will cover a significant portion of the European part of Russia, and its integration with U.S. information resources will further strengthen the anti-Russian potential of this facility.”

Washington is in negotiations with Poland and the Czech Republic, former communist states that now belong to NATO, as it explores where to set up a missile defense site in Eastern Europe — the first such facility outside U.S. territory.

Baluyevsky said that silos intended for missile defense interceptors could also be used for long-range ballistic missiles — a possibility adding to Moscow’s concerns.

Baluyevsky said the U.S. plans would remain an “irritant” in relations between Russia, the U.S. and other NATO nations. “We would be forced to search for countermeasures which would be asymmetrical and clearly much cheaper,” he said.

Moscow has opposed U.S. plans to deploy a national missile defense system, saying it would upset global stability and trigger a new arms race. It has said, however, that it is eager to cooperate with NATO partners in developing defenses against short-range missiles.
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