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Russia will not make its soil available for U.S. missile defenses

RIA Novosti

18:2811/06/2009 MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not advance U.S. military plans aimed at itself and will not make its territory available for the deployment of U.S. missile defense elements, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Commenting on U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' suggestion that U.S. missile defense sites could be deployed on Russian soil, Andrei Nesterenko said there could be no partnership "in building facilities that are essentially designed to counter Russia's strategic deterrence forces."

He said Moscow hoped for a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of missile defense, based on a joint assessment of threats, but at present the sides' assessments "do not coincide."

He stressed Russian-U.S. cooperation must be built on the basis of equality, which would include, among other things, the scrapping of Washington's plans for the so-called third missile-defense site, in Central Europe.

"However, on that issue, Gates holds the opposite opinion," Nesterenko said.

The U.S. defense secretary said on Tuesday the United States had offered to put radar or data exchange centers in Russia as part of its response to Iran's missile threat.

"The Russians have come back to us and acknowledged that we were right in terms of the nearness of the Iranian missile threat, and that they had been wrong. And so my hope is we can build on that," he said during a Senate committee hearing.

Washington has agreed plans with Warsaw and Prague to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013. The United States says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states" such as Iran.

Russia has consistently opposed the missile shield as a threat to its national security and the balance of power in Europe. Medvedev threatened in November to retaliate if the U.S. plans went ahead by deploying Iskander-M missiles in the country's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

U.S. President Barack Obama has indicated he could put on hold his predecessor George Bush's plans concerning the third site for Washington's global missile defense system, which he said needed more analysis.

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