Russia threatens to take aim at NATO's missile defense shield
At a conference in Moscow convened to discuss the NATO missile defense shield, a fierce point of contention between the US and Russia, efforts to find a compromise reached a dead end.
A 50-nation conference aimed at airing differences between Russia and the US over missile defense ended today in Moscow, apparently having accomplished its purpose all too well: Russia's top general threatened to attack NATO missile defense positions.Skip to next paragraph
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Yesterday Russian officials declared that talks aimed at finding a compromise have all but reached a dead end, and Russia's military chief of staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov threatened a preemptive rocket strike against NATO missile defense emplacements if current deployment plans go ahead.
"A decision to use destructive force preemptively will be taken if the situation worsens," Gen. Makarov told the stunned gathering of delegations from almost 50 countries, including NATO, the US, former Soviet republics, China, South Korea, and Japan.
Russian military experts used computer simulations and other graphic aids to make their case that current plans to deploy a European missile defense shield will undermine Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent in its later stages, and by 2025 may render Russia's nuclear forces obsolete.
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"We believe that we have outlined our concerns clearly, before the world, and everyone can see that our case is reasonable," says Sergei Markov, a political expert who has frequently advised incoming President Vladimir Putin. "We think the US should realize the plan it has suggested will lead to a new arms race, and they should return to the table with fresh approaches."
Mr. Makarov warned that Russia will begin to deploy Iskander-M short range missiles in its western enclave of Kaliningrad, and also in Russia's south and far eastern territories, to be used in potential strikes against US antimissile systems around the world, not only in Europe.
Ellen Tauscher, US special envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense, told a Moscow press conference yesterday that Makarov is painting a picture of "Christmas future" (a reference to Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol"), a dire scenario that needn't come to pass if both sides keep talking constructively.