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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia forces development plan unaffected by U.S. missile shield

RIA Novosti

07/05/2007 16:49 MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's mid-tem military development program will not be reviewed despite U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Central Europe, a Russian senior military official said Monday.

"The Armed Forces development plan through 2010 was approved by the Russian president. It is being implemented and will not be amended," said Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces.

He said the plan could only be revised if drastic changes occur globally.

"Thus far no such changes have taken place," he said.

Gen. Baluyevsky also said Russia does not intend to use the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty to provide an asymmetric response to U.S. missile shield plans.

"If someone thinks Russia's position on American missile defense and the CFE are linked, they are wrong," he told a briefing in Moscow.

He said Russia could respond with less expensive options, adding that the missile defense program was onerous even for the American budget.

He said Moscow will respond without fail if it sees missile defense as a threat to its national interests.

"Exactly what measures will be taken is a technical matter," he said.

Gen. Baluyevsky said should it break out, a new "Cold War" would set U.S.-Russian relations back 50 years, adding it is vital to prevent such a situation.

He said Russia has succeeded in shifting the issue of missile defense deployment in Europe from a bilateral level to an OSCE format.

He said earlier he will attend a Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels May 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed previously that Russia should unilaterally suspend the implementation of the CFE treaty until other parties to the treaty ratify the document.

"I think it is necessary to announce a moratorium on Russia's implementation of the CFE treaty until all NATO countries ratify it and start to strictly adhere to it, as Russia does today unilaterally," Putin said in his annual state of the nation address to parliament.

The CFE was concluded in 1990 by the then-22 NATO members and the now defunct Warsaw Pact to enhance arms control in Europe, and amended in 1999 to take post-Cold War realities into account.

NATO countries have not ratified the new version, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases in Georgia and Moldova under the Istanbul Agreements.

Putin also suggested that Russia might consider leaving the CFE treaty if talks with NATO countries show no visible progress in the implementation of the treaty in the future.

A Kremlin source later confirmed the Kremlin's determination to follow up on Putin's proposal, giving the alliance a year to make a decision on the CFE or face Russia's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty.

The strong statement made by the Russian leader triggered an immediate response from NATO headquarters in Brussels, which said the alliance is expecting to receive clarification on the Russian position in the near future.

Guy Roberts, a senior NATO official, said Thursday he hopes President Vladimir Putin's proposal on Russia's withdrawal from the CFE treaty is not a final decision.

Putin's statement came following U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense shield in Central Europe, as well as to finance NGOs and opposition parties in Russia in a bid to improve the country's democratic record. Moscow regards the prospects as a security threat and meddling in its domestic affairs.

U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice earlier said Russia's worries over the U.S. missile defense plans in Central Europe are "ludicrous," adding that Russia should respect the CFE treaty.

"These are treaty obligations and everyone is expected to live up to them," Rice told journalists.

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