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Transdnestr willing to host Russian missile defense system

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) - Transdnestr would deploy elements of a Russian missile defense system if Moscow asked it to, the leader of the unrecognized Moldovan republic signaled on Monday.

Media reports said earlier that Tiraspol had asked Moscow to set up a missile defense system in Transdnestr to counter U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Romania.

"We confirm... that we could deploy what Russia needs," Igor Smirnov said.

Commenting on the possible deployment of a missile shield in Romania, he said that although the decision was "Romania's internal affair," the deployment of U.S. interceptor missiles "will not be a stabilizing factor."

There has been no official reaction from Moscow to the comment.

The Russian-speaking province of Transdnestr has maintained de facto independence from Moldova since a brief war in 1992, which was the culmination of tensions following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Russia has had peacekeepers in the region since July 1992.

A U.S. State Department official said earlier the facilities in Romania are to become operational by 2015 and are designed as protection against "current and emerging ballistic missile threats from Iran."

The planned deployment in Romania comes after U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped Bush administration plans for a radar and interceptor missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland, which Russia fiercely opposed as a national security threat.

Obama announced on September 17, 2009 that Washington would not deploy missile-defense elements in the Czech Republic and Poland due to a re-assessment of the threat from Iran.

Following Obama's announcement, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he decided against deploying Iskander missiles in Russia's Kaliningrad Region, which Russia had threatened to do if the U.S. went ahead with plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station the Czech Republic.

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