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Russia to Respond if US Rejects Kremlin's Missile-Defense Plan


Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov says the term "Cold War" will be forgotten if the United States accepts his country's missile-defense plan for Europe. But Ivanov is also threatening to deploy Russian missiles near Poland if Washington rejects the Kremlin offer. VOA Moscow Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports.

Speaking to reporters in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia will cancel plans to deploy missiles in its Kaliningrad enclave if the United States accepts a Kremlin plan for a European missile-defense system. The Russian Baltic enclave is surrounded by Poland and Lithuania, both NATO members.

Ivanov's statement carries the implied threat of an arms race in response to an American plan to deploy missiles in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic. The United States says the system would guard against a possible attack by Iran. Ivanov says his country's proposal is better for NATO than America's.

Ivanov says that Russia together with the NATO allies can create a system that would defend not just some NATO members, but all of them. He says the American plan will not defend all.

Ivanov's statement follows a proposal made by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with President Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine. The proposal would add a radar facility in southern Russia to an earlier proposal for a Russian radar facility in Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic that borders Iran.

President Bush said in Kennebunkport that Mr. Putin's proposal is worth considering. But Mr. Bush added that the Czech Republic and Poland need to be an integral part of a NATO missile-defense system.

Ivanov's statement represents a Russian carrot and stick: Accept our proposal, he says, and the term "Cold War" will be forgotten. Reject it, and we will deploy missiles against you.

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