Russias top military officer has threatened to deal a pre-emptive strike on US-led NATO missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe if Washington goes ahead with its missile defence plan.
President Dmitry Medvedev said last year that Russia will retaliate militarily if it does not reach an agreement with the US and NATO on the controversial missile defence system. Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov went further on Thursday. A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens, Makarov said. Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov warned Thursday that talks between Moscow and Washington are close to a dead end.
Moscow rejects Washingtons claim that the missile defense plan is solely to deal with any Iranian missile threat and has voiced fears it will eventually become powerful enough to undermine Russias nuclear deterrent. Moscow has proposed running the missile shield jointly with NATO,but the alliance has rejected that proposal.
The US-NATO missile defense plans use Aegis radars and interceptors on ships and a more powerful radar based in Turkey in the first phase,followed by radar and interceptor facilities in Romania and Poland.
Russia would not plan any retaliation unless the US goes through with its plans and take the third and final step and deploy defence elements in Poland,Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Wednesday. That is likely to happen after 2018.
NATOs deputy secretary general,Alexander Vershbow,said Thursday that the US-led missile shield is not and will not be directed against Russia and that Russias missiles are too fast and sophisticated for the planned system to intercept.