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NATO-Russia tensions over missile defence

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NATO-Russia tensions over missile defence


NATO says Russian rhetoric suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the scale and purpose of its missile defence plans.

Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister is due to meet NATO ministers in Brussels on Thursday.

The alliance wants to set up an anti-ballistic missile shield which it says would defend Europe against potential threats from states such as Iran.

Russia says it will deploy missiles capable of countering the shield.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: “Russia is prepared to respond to our plans by deploying missiles in areas neighbouring the alliance. I have to say that such responses remind us of the confrontation of a bygone era.”

Russia wants guarantees that the plans are not aimed at limiting its nuclear capability. It is also seeking joint control over use of the system.

“We are not seeking political or military gains on this issue,” said the Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizov. “We think it’s important to maintain the balance and stability. That’s why we openly say: if you do this, then we would have to do that. If you go further then we would do more.”

At the end of November Russia’s President Dimitri Medvedev visited the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, which borders on NATO territory. It is there that he says he will set up an early-warning radar system and deploy missiles capable of countering any NATO shield.

The move is aimed at pressing the US to back down in the dispute.

NATO says it is hoping to resolve the differences with Russia before a summit in Chicago next May.

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