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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian military chief warns of U.S. anti-missile shield impact

RIA Novosti

13/12/2006 18:32 MOSCOW, December 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia disapproves of U.S. plans to deploy an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe, and believes the move may adversely affect global as well as European security, the head of the Russian armed forces' general staff said Wednesday.

Washington is considering placing a missile defense system in Poland or the Czech

Republic, which it says will protect Europe and the United States against hostile missiles from certain rogue states in Asia, such as North Korea.

Speaking to a gathering of foreign military attaches in Moscow, Yuri Baluyevsky

said: "The creation of a U.S. anti-missile base cannot be viewed otherwise than as a major reconfiguration of the American military presence. Vanguard groupings of the U.S. armed forces in Europe have until now had no strategic components. This raises the question as to who U.S. anti-missile plans are really targeted against, and what kind of implications they may have for Russia and Europe at large."

He dismissed assurances that the base's buildup will have no noticeable effect on Russia's nuclear deterrent potential.

"An ABM area near Europe's Russian borders is an unfriendly step, to put it mildly, and an unfriendly signal," he said. "The potential interception zone for ballistic missiles from this area will span much of Russia's European territory."

"Given that its [the shield's] creation may prompt other countries to step up their activities in missile building, the situation in the longer term appears all the more alarming. It is clearly fraught with the potential for a nuclear arms race, which will have a negative impact on global strategic stability."

"It will force us to look for certain counter-measures, which will definitely be asymmetrical and less expensive," Baluyevsky said.

He also expressed concern over the potential damage that may be caused to Russia's environment by the nuclear warheads of missiles shot down over Russian soil.

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