US missile shield will harm European security: Medvedev

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that the US plans to set up an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe will harm regional security and threatens the demise of the decade-old balance of power in Europe.

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“The placement of elements of a US missile shield in Eastern Europe will only aggravate the situation,” Medvedev said in a sharply-worded speech to Russian diplomatic corps in Moscow.

Moscow has strongly opposed the US plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, calling the project a threat to its security and international nuclear deterrence. Washington says the defence shield is needed to deter a possible strike from Iran.

During their visit to Moscow in late March, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered Russia to monitor the proposed missile and radar bases in order to allay Russian concerns.

Washington has also offered not to activate the system until there is a “clear and present” threat from Iran or other potential adversaries.

But Russia said the US proposals were vague and non-transparent.

“Security cannot be based on word of honour alone,” Medvedev said, adding that the common security heritage in the region could not survive “if one of the sides destroys isolated elements of the strategic construction”.

On an official visit to Germany in early June, the Russian president called for a legally binding European security treaty to be signed at a pan-European conference.

Medvedev said any new security arrangements should be based on “pure” national interests, not skewed by ideological motives.

He added that “organisations operating in the Euro-Atlantic region” should also have the opportunity to join.