Russia offers missile shield deal

Moscow offers to drop weapon plans if US keeps bases away from Russian territory.

    Bush's plan for a missile defence shield has drawn strong criticism from Russian leaders [AFP]

    The "third positioning region" refers to Poland, where the US plans to station interceptor missiles, and the Czech Republic, mooted to be the site for a US radar base.

    'No confrontation'

    "Today we do not have ideological reasons for confrontation. And as we realise plans for the development of the strategic missile forces, we are not planning to frighten anyone," Solovtsov said.

    "We are simply doing that which is called for by today's realities."

    Washington has said its planned shield is intended to protect the US against attacks from countries such as Iran and North Korea.

    But Moscow says the shield is part of a plan to assert US control close to the Russian border, a claim that the US has denied.

    The Kremlin has in recent months stepped up its missile development programme and has said it could position missiles in the Kaliningrad region, which lies on the borders of the European Union.

    Solovtsov told reporters on Wednesday that by 2020 Russia will have replaced its Soviet-era nuclear missile arsenal with systems and missiles capable of overcoming defences similar to the US missile shield.

    Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has not yet given a firm commitment on whether his administration will continue the project, which was first set up by George Bush, the current president.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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