22 Sep 2009

Russia Not Canceling New Missile Deployment

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Reuters quotes the head of the Russian General Staff asserting that, despite Barack Obama’s surrender to Russian objections to basing US missile defenses in Central Europe, Russia is intending to proceed with placing new offensive short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad Oblast.

Russia’s top general said on Monday that plans to deploy missiles in an enclave next to Poland had not been shelved, despite a decision by the United States to rethink plans for missile defense in Europe. …

President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a land-based missile defense system has been welcomed by Russia, which had threatened to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if the United States refused to drop the plans.

The Kremlin always said Russia would only deploy the missiles as a counter-measure if Washington went ahead with its missile shield. Moscow said the shield threatened its national security and would upset the strategic balance in Europe.

On Saturday Russian deputy defense minister Vladimir Popovkin said in an interview that “naturally we will scrap the measures that Russia planned to take” in response to the shield and specifically named Iskander deployment as one of them.

When asked about the matter on Monday, the chief of Russia’s general staff, Nikolai Makarov, said: “There has been no such decision. It should be a political decision. It should be made by the president.”

“They (the Americans) have not given up the anti-missile shield; they have replaced it with a sea-based component,” Makarov told reporters on a plane from Moscow to Zurich.

The general was accompanying President Dmitry Medvedev on a trip to Switzerland.

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