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U.S. Puzzled By Russian General's Warning to Former Allies

Mos News | February 21, 2007

Recent remarks by Russian officials critical of U.S. efforts to deploy missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic are “puzzling,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey was quoted by the Kyodo news agency as saying on Tuesday.

“I think we find it hard to believe that he's really speaking on behalf of the Russian government on this issue,” Casey said regarding Monday's comments by the commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov.

Solovstov is reported to have said that if the missile defense system is deployed, that could lead Moscow to target former allies with its own missiles.

Casey dismissed allegations that the European missile defense system could threaten Russia, saying, “The system that's being put in place is designed to counter threats from the Middle East or from other potential rogue states out there, and it's something that we're sharing with our European friends and allies and, frankly, with the entire international community, including, we would hope, Russia.”

It's for defensive purposes,“ Casey also said, adding, ”Certainly their defense experts have had extensive consultations with folks on our side and understand that this system is not intended as a threat to Russia, and frankly, is incapable of providing a threat to Russia.“

The United States began briefing the Russians on the missile defense system beginning in 2004 and since March 2006, ”there have been more than 10 instances where we've had senior-level officials get together to discuss the details of our missile defense plan,“ Casey said.

However, Solovtsov's remarks were only the latest in a series of statements by Russian officials critical of U.S. foreign policy in general and the missile defense issue in particular.

”As regards the U.S. missile defense system, we do not see objective motives for deploying these elements in Europe and do not think that the threats that have been cited to rationalize this deployment, namely North Korea and Iran, are sufficient for such radical shifts in strategic stability,“ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said according to a Feb. 9 report by Russian news agency Interfax.

”One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way,“ Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a speech Feb. 10 at a security policy conference in Munich.


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