Russian suspension of missile deployment in Kaliningrad would be positive step: NATO

By Xinhua,

Brussels : NATO said Wednesday that a Russian decision, if confirmed, to halt plans to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad would be a positive step.

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“If the decision has been taken … that would be a positive step,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters.

He said NATO has taken note of a report by a Russian news agency that Moscow has halted plans to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian Baltic enclave that is sandwiched by two NATO countries — Poland and Lithuania.

But the spokesman said NATO has not received confirmation of the Russian decision.

“When this (deployment) was first proposed, we were quite clear that the idea of deploying missiles in Kaliningrad and pointing them at NATO allies was unwelcome and unhelpful,” he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad shortly after Barack Obama was elected U.S. president, obviously to counter a U.S. plan to deploy a strategic missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

Russia’s Interfax news agency on Wednesday quoted a Russian Defense Ministry official as saying that the plans have been halted in view of the fact that the new U.S. administration is not rushing through plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The U.S. missile defense shield was proposed by former U.S. President George W. Bush. But the new Obama administration has not made clear whether it will go ahead with the plan, delay it or even scrap it altogether.

The NATO spokesman said Wednesday that he has not seen any change in the U.S. position, nor in the NATO position.

At their summit in Bucharest, Romania, in April 2008, NATO heads of state and government endorsed the U.S. plan as a basis for the alliance’s strategic missile defense initiative and ordered a look into options of integration. Enditem