NATO Chief Counters Russia Threat As Waste

The chief of staff of the Russian armed forces says Russia is being pushed into a new arms race by the planned deployment of a NATO missile-defense system in Europe.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Russian countermeasures to the alliance's ballistic-missile-defense system would be a waste of money because they would be aimed at an "artificial enemy."

Rasmussen made the comment ahead of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels that will, among other things, review plans for the missile-defense system in Europe.

Earlier, the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces said Moscow was being pushed into a new arms race by the planned deployment of the system.

Speaking at a meeting with foreign military attaches, General Nikolai Makarov warned of a possible "sharp deterioration" of relations.

"The very idea of creating a missile-defense system can definitely bring about a sharp deterioration in our relations," Makarov said.

He said that Russia had begun the deployment of new weapons systems in its western exclave of Kaliningrad so that, once a NATO missile shield was operational, the nuclear deterrent between the two sides remained balanced.

Washington says the planned missile shield is meant to prevent a possible attack from countries such as Iran, but Russia fears it will make its nuclear arsenal ineffective.

NATO has rejected Russia's demand to jointly build a missile-defense system.

compiled from agency reports


Copyright (c) RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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