August 20, 2008

Russia Warns It Will React to U.S. Missile Shield in Europe

MOSCOW. Aug 20 (Interfax) - Moscow warned on Wednesday that the United States would expand and modernize its planned U.S. missile shield in Europe - "something that the American leadership does not deny" - and that, "in such a case, Russia will be forced to react, and not with diplomatic representations alone."

The warning came in comments by the Russian Foreign Ministry on a U.S.-Polish agreement on Wednesday to set up an American missile defense base in Poland. The comments are posted on the ministry website.

"Not even in such a difficult situation are we going to end our dialogue, and we are open to continuing to work on this matter with all interested parties. However, any 'simplified trust' is out of the question now. Only practical action and formalized interstate agreements and not any deceptive declarations of intent or promises will be taken into account," the ministry said.

The planned missile defenses are "merely one of the instruments in an extremely dangerous set of American military projects involving unilateral development of a global missile defense, annulment of restrictions imposed by START, implementation of the concept of a global strike and development of projects to deploy strike weapons in outer space," it said.

"Despite the opinion of Russia and despite military and political developments in Europe, the American strategic potential is persistently being pulled to our borders. The radar station in the Czech Republic will be able to see practically the entire European part of our country while the long-range interceptor missiles to be deployed in Poland will have no other targets than Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles either today or in the foreseeable future," the ministry said.

"Attempts by the United States to change the strategic balance of power in its favor and prevent the strengthening of stability and predictability in world affairs manifest themselves in an increasingly vivid and specific way," it said.

"The 'Warsaw agreement' has a new element to it as well - an additional base for American Patriot air defense systems on Polish territory. Such a grouping can have nothing to do with fending off a supposed Iranian threat by definition. Nor does Tehran, which the American side has so persistently been representing as a threat to the Europeans, has any motivation to threaten any missile strike against Europe, least of all against the United States, and it will simply have no technological resources for this for the next few years either," the ministry said.

"We have been assured for a long time that American anti-missile preparations are not directed against Russia, and we have been given promises that measures of 'transparency and confidence building' will be agreed, measures that could help mitigate Russian concerns. That was the interpretation made by Secretary of State [Condoleezza] Rice at a recent news conference in Tbilisi. But the reality is that the American side is not going to make any commitments that would have a practical meaning for us, whereas proposals to that effect that were made earlier are being retracted," the ministry said.

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