Russia warns of response to U.S. missile shield in Europe

Russia will have to respond to the expansion of the U.S. missile system in Europe not only through diplomatic demarches, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

"The radar station in the Czech Republic can 'screen' virtually the entire European part of our country, while the long-range antimissiles to be deployed in Poland do not have, and won't have in the foreseeable future, any other targets than the Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles," the ministry said in a statement.

"It is obvious to us, and the American leadership does not deny this, that the so-called third launch area of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe will be expanded and modernized. Russia in this case will have to respond and will not limit itself to diplomatic demarches," it said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski signed an agreement in Warsaw Wednesday to deploy parts of the U.S. global missile shield in the East European country.

The United States and the Czech Republic have already signed a bilateral treaty last month allowing a U.S. radar base on Czech soil despite protests from both within the Czech Republic and Russia.

Moscow has consistently expressed its opposition to the U.S. missile shield in Europe, saying it threatens its national security. However, the United States says the shield is designed to thwart missile attacks by what it calls "rogue states," including Iran.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated last Friday that the deployment of the missile shield in Europe is targeted against Russia.

[Source: Xinhua, Moscow, 20Aug08]

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