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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian missiles near Poland to 'offset' U.S. shield - NATO envoy

RIA Novosti

05/11/2008 20:22 KALININGRAD, November 5 (RIA Novosti) - The deployment of precision-guided tactical missiles in Russia's westernmost region would render ineffective a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe, Russia's NATO envoy said on Wednesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier on Wednesday that Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missile systems in its Kaliningrad exclave near Poland "to neutralize, if necessary, the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe."

"NATO must have known beforehand that their reckless actions would lead to no good," Dmitry Rogozin said in a telephone interview with RIA Novosti.

"No sensible person believes in fairy tales about the Iranian missile threat, and that thousands of kilometers from Tehran on the coast of the Baltic Sea, it is necessary to station a missile interceptor system. No one believes that Osama bin Laden will be running around with a missile under his arm, threatening the peaceful West," he said.

He also said the missile shield was "a provocation aimed at undermining European security."

"As far as we are concerned, the problem - not least for the Kaliningrad region - involves a direct military threat," he said, adding that "the Europeans" continued "to whine under U.S. pressure."

He said that Russia's response to the missile shield was "cheap and effective"

"Any threat in the form of a missile shield in Poland or the Czech Republic would be nullified," he said.

A Russian military analyst has said the deployment of Iskander systems would be the best possible response to U.S. missile plans for Europe.

Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Moscow-based Military Forecast Center, said the deployment of Iskander systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) would allow Russia to target the entire territory of Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

The Iskander-M tactical system is armed with precision-guided missiles (SS-26 Stone) reportedly capable of carrying multiple conventional or nuclear warheads.

Moscow has repeatedly objected to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.

The United States claims the new bases are needed to counter missile attacks by "rogue states" such as Iran.

The U.S. signed deals on the missile shield with Warsaw and Prague during the summer. Polish and Czech lawmakers have yet to ratify the agreements.

Russian officials earlier said Moscow could deploy its Iskander tactical missiles and strategic bombers in Belarus, and warned that Russia could target its missiles at Poland.

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