Moscow to Respond if US Speeds Up European Missile Defense – Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow hopes Washington understands that Russia will be forced to react if the US speeds up the placement of missile defense systems in Europe, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday.

“If there is really another look at the European phasing of an adaptive approach to the creation of a missile defense system speeding up to the phase where it’s time to place metal to the cement, then we will regret that because we cannot respond indifferently to attempts that negatively influence Russian national potential of its strategic nuclear restraint,” Ryabkov said.

Late last month, the US Navy deployed for the first time an advanced version of a missile-interceptor for its Aegis missile defense system, initiating the second phase of Washington’s plan to boost missile defenses in Europe.

The US missile defense system in Europe, which NATO and the US say is aimed at countering threats from North Korea and Iran, has been a particular source of friction in US-Russian relations for a number of years.

Russia and NATO formally agreed to cooperate on the system at the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, but talks foundered, in part over Russian demands for legal guarantees that the system would not target its strategic nuclear deterrent.

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