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U.S. air shield possible only with Russia's involvement - FM

RIA Novosti

23/03/2007 12:24 MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. plans to deploy air defense missiles in Europe could negatively affect Russia's relations with NATO if implemented unilaterally without Russia's involvement or any consideration of collective interests, Russia's foreign minister said Friday.

The United States said in January it would place elements of its missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea. Moscow has strongly criticized the move, saying it threatened Russia's security, and warned it could revise its military doctrine accordingly.

"We are against 'strategic games' in Europe, which could all but create a potential for confrontations and align European policies in accordance with the friend-or-foe principle," Sergei Lavrov said in his newspaper article.

Washington also said March 1 that it would place other elements of its missile defense system in the South Caucasus, but did not specify which of the three former Soviet countries it would choose - Armenia, Azerbaijan or Georgia - with the latter being anxious to join NATO.

Lavrov said a confrontation with the U.S. was not predetermined, and there were no objective grounds for a new Cold War. The words came as a follow-up to his statement earlier this week, in which the minister accused the U.S. of using a Cold War approach by uniting other countries against a common "Soviet threat."

The U.S. insists that the European shield is not aimed against Russia and is needed to counter possible attacks from the so-called "rogue states," including North Korea and Iran.

But Lavrov said Russia wanted the U.S. actions to be consistent and logical. "We are being called upon to fight against a hypothetical threat, while a real threat to our security is looming," he said.

The minister voiced his concerns that structures and instruments - NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty and others -which have been inherited from the previous era, were being converted into means to conduct a bloc policy.

Lavrov warned that there was a threat that the reform of the European architecture of security would be folded, which might predetermine a new split in Europe for decades coming.

The reform has been promoted by Russia and other states since 2004, which have accused the OSCE of bias, poor governance and lack of initiative. Along with early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation, the 56-nation grouping also monitors elections, human rights, arms proliferation, and democracy.


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