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Russia, NATO must settle 'missile shield' issue soon - envoy

RIA Novosti

19:54 06/07/2011 MOSCOW, July 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and NATO still have time to resolve the controversy over the future European missile defense network, Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said on Wednesday.

"Our current dialogue on missile defense is very difficult, but we must finally either agree or disagree [on the issue] by the end of this year," Rogozin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television.

The diplomat said the May 2012 NATO summit in Chicago was "crucial" because it is expected to determine the architecture of the future European "missile shield."

"If we don't see ourselves there [as part of the European missile architecture], we will have to slowly prepare our response," Rogozin said.

"It will certainly cost us money, but we will be forced to do it, because we cannot put our sovereignty and strategic nuclear potential at risk," he said.

NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Tuesday that Russia should not seek new weapons to counter nonexistent threats from the West, and would be better off spending the money on social and economic development.

NATO has so far refused to agree on Russia's proposal for a so-called 'sector missile defense network' in Europe. The alliance insists on establishing two independent systems that exchange information.

NATO has also refused to provide legally binding guarantees that its missiles would not be directed against Russia, which Moscow says is the only way to prevent a new arms race.



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