‘US eyes encircling Russia with 400 anti-ballistic missiles’ – Russian deputy defense minister
“A large-scale effort is ongoing to encircle Russia with an anti-missile shield. Anti-missile defense sites have been already seat up on US soil in California and Alaska,” Alexander Fomin, Russia’s deputy defense minister, said on Friday in an interview with the Russia 24 TV channel. Washington has in fact long been expanding its anti-missile shield into Europe. In 2016, a $800 million ballistic defense site went into operation in Romania.
Last year, the US for the first time deployed the Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles to the Baltics to use them in large-scale NATO wargames in Lithuania.
In July, US Vice President Mike Pence indicated the US was considering deploying the Patriot systems to Estonia. Poland has recently secured a $10.5 billion weapons deal with Washington to purchase 208 Patriot PAC-3 missiles in addition to 16 launchers and four radars.
“Anti-missile defense sites in Japan and South Korea will join this circle [against Russia],” Fomin argued, noting that “overall, some 400 anti-ballistic missiles will be deployed, significantly diminishing the potential of Russia’s nuclear deterrent.”
Tokyo has recently approved the deployment of Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore systems on its territory to defend itself from potential “surprise attacks,” while Seoul has already installed the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
Speaking about the mobility of US troops, Fomin said that they have been practicing deployment overseas and have already created“a logistical reserve sufficient for a very rapid deployment of an additional grouping of up to 300,000 troops.”
Moscow repeatedly appealed to Washington to discuss mutual concerns, but was faced with a lack of interest from its American counterparts, according to the official.Yet, Russia “has been inviting [the US] to launch a political dialogue throughout all these years, but the proposals were ignored.”
The deputy minister echoed the statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who drew attention to the US missile defense amassing near Russian territories while unveiling a new Russian nuclear arsenal, including the hypersonic Sarmat ICBM.
Putin noted that the US Navy has five cruisers and 30 destroyers deployed “in the immediate vicinity of the territory of Russia” as part of its sprawling anti-missile defenses.
Responding to Putin’s address, which the US media framed as saber-rattling, the Pentagon and the White House boasted about the US’ own nuclear buildup and unmatched defense spending.
Putin denied accusations of starting an arms race, saying one had effectively been initiated with the US pulling out of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2002.
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