MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russia warned Wednesday that the signing of a U.S.-Poland missile defence deal will fuel a new arms race in Europe and beyond and that it could impact beyond the diplomatic sphere. An angry statement was released by the Russian foreign ministry soon after the deal was signed in Warsaw for a U.S. missile defence shield to be set up in Poland and the Czech Republic.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted that Russia has nothing to fear from the shield and also denied that the world was entering a new Cold War. But the Russian statement said: "Such actions create mistrust and spur an arms race on the continent and beyond its borders."
Russia has repeatedly protested that the missile defence is a security threat on its own border and threatened to target the shield with its own missiles. The United States says the system is intended to guard against missile attacks from "rogue states" such as Iran.
"It's clear to us, and the American leadership doesn't deny it, that the so-called missile shield in Europe will be widened and modernized. In that case Russia will be compelled to react -- and not only by diplomatic protests," the statement said.
Last week the deputy head of Russia's general staff, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, warned Poland was making itself a target "100 percent" by participating in the US program.Washington plans to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland -- plus a radar facility in the neighboring Czech Republic -- between 2011 and 2013.