September 10, 2008

Russia could point missiles at strategic US targets in central Europe, including planned American missile shield sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, a senior Russian general said Wednesday.

“I can’t exclude that if such decisions are taken by our military-political leadership, the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic and other such objects could be chosen as designated targets for some of our inter-continental ballistic missiles,” General Nikolai Solovtsov said, quoted by Interfax.

Moscow “is obliged to take corresponding measures that prevent under any circumstances the devaluing of Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

“We should be sure that the current and future strategic missile forces… are guaranteed to fulfil the task of strategic deterrence,” said Solovtsov, the head of Russia’s strategic missile forces.

Solovtsov added that by the end of the year Russia planned to carry out four strategic missile tests, including a test of the new RS-24, capable of carrying a clutch of independently targetable warheads.

The comments came as tensions mounted between Russia and the United States over last month’s Russian military surge into Georgia and the fraught question of missile defence.

While the 10 missile interceptors planned for Poland could not themselves undermine Russia’s arsenal, Moscow was troubled by a lack of transparency in the project, Solovtsov said.

Moscow sees the plans for new US missile defence facilities in central Europe as part of an effort to encircle Russia.

Washington insists the planned facilities are directed against “rogue states” such as Iran and in no way threaten Russia.

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