The door has been opened to new talks on the US missile shield in Europe after a visit by Russia’s foreign minister to Poland, where part of the defence system will be based.
Sergei Lavrov reinforced Moscow’s strong opposition to the plan, saying it posed a direct threat to Russia. But he balanced his comments with a call for dialogue.
Poland’s decision to host 10 interceptor missiles has caused intense friction with Russia.
Lavrov said he could not ignore the fact that they were an integral part of the US shield. He did, however, say that Moscow did not regard Poland itself as a threat.
His Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski tried to reassure Lavrov over the missile system, stressing the need for confidence-building measures.
The shield will include a radar installation in the Czech Republic, which has also earned the Kremlin’s wrath.
Analysts see Lavrov’s comments as a slight softening of Russia’s position. At one stage,
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the plan would be met by a “military response” from Moscow but he gave no details.