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Russian Army Chief Accuses West of Corroding Arms Control


Russia's top general has accused the West of turning the arms control system into a political tool, warning that a launch of a U.S. interceptor missile in Europe could trigger a Russian ballistic missile strike.

Army Chief of Staff Yuri Baluyevsky Saturday sharply criticized U.S. plans to build an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe. He also accused NATO of boosting its military potential in the Baltic countries.

Baluyevsky told a news conference in Moscow that Russia's moratorium on the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty enables him to move Russian military forces as necessary within the country. But he added that Russia has no plans of massing troops along its borders.

The U.S. says the proposed missile shield in Europe is designed to protect NATO countries from possible attacks by Iran.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday expressed his support for Moscow. He held two days of talks with President Vladimir Putin in Minsk.

Mr. Putin earlier said Russia could counter U.S. plans to deploy its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic by deploying missiles in Belarus. The former Soviet Republic is located between Russia and Poland.

The Soviet Union and NATO signed the treaty limiting conventional weapons deployment in 1990. It was updated in 1999 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia ratified the renewed document in 2004, but NATO has refused to ratify it until Russia fulfills its commitment to withdraw forces from former Soviet bases in Georgia and Moldova.

Moscow calls those deployments peacekeeping missions and refuses to withdraw its troops.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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