Russia must penetrate any missile shield – defense minister

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Moscow will react appropriately to possible NATO moves concerning eastward expansion or Russia’s expulsion from the missile defense project, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Monday.

Serdyukov was commenting on recent WikiLeaks publications alleging that NATO has not changed its attitude toward Russia. According to the documents published by the website, NATO still considers Moscow an enemy. 

Moscow hopes that these publications have nothing in common with “the real state of things,” Serdyukov said in an interview with Russia 24 TV channel. “At least we want it to be true,” he added. However, he warned that any troop deployment near Russia’s borders would inevitably cause Moscow concern.

If it happens, Russia will be forced to react to it, the minister said. According to him, appropriate measures will be taken to counterbalance the threats.

“NATO should refute WikiLeaks reports”

The Russian leadership “cherish no illusions,” Serdyukov said, adding that they were dispelled after the August 2008 conflict in the Caucasus. This explains why Moscow is so “tranquil” about the WikiLeaks releases. However, it says it is ready to react in an appropriate way.

The minister stressed he was not sure NATO would refrain from seeking to expand eastward, despite the new strategic concept. “We hope the alliance will be more discreet than it used to be,” he noted.

Earlier, Russia’s NATO ambassador Dmitry Rogozin also urged the alliance to refute the secret US diplomatic cables. Some of them concerned alleged NATO plans to defend Poland and the Baltic states against Russia.

At the same time, Serdyukov recalled that Russia and the alliance are currently evaluating mutual threats, including those in the area of missile defense, he noted. 

Moscow “will react” if barred from anti-missile project

Russia is concerned about the situation over the US and NATO projects to build a missile defense shield for Europe. The alliance officially invited Russia to participate in its project, but the role Moscow may play in it is unclear. Both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned that if Russia was not included in the project, it could lead to a new arms race.

If Russia is barred from building the missile defense shield, the country will have to take “military and other measures,” Serdyukov said on Monday. The Kaliningrad region or some other parts of the country could be reinforced as Russia would have to react to the new conditions, the minister said. “We will have to develop a system, which will penetrate through the European missile defense and preserve the Russian nuclear potential,” he noted.

New START to be ratified “in near future”

The US is likely to ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in the near future, Serdyukov said, speaking on the new agreement between the two countries.

Serdyukov said he did not think the ratification was dragging out in the US. There are difficulties, he said, adding that the American partners inform Russia that work is continuing.

The ratification is a matter of bilateral relations between Russia and the US and has no impact on Moscow’s ties with NATO, the minister stressed.