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NATO, Russia at Odds Over Missile Shield


Russia's Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles in Moscow's Red Square, May 2009 (file photo).

Russia's Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles in Moscow's Red Square, May 2009 (file photo).

Russia has warned NATO that it is forcing a new arms race by deploying a missile defense shield in Europe.

Russian Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov told a group of foreign military attaches Wednesday that the NATO defense shield poses a risk to his country's strategic nuclear defenses. He said that will inevitably lead to a new arms race.

Last week, Russia officially opened a new anti-missile radar station in the Baltic Sea region of Kaliningrad.

Russia says it is willing to cooperate with the West and work together to share technology and jointly build a missile defense system - a proposal NATO has already rejected. General Makarov questioned why NATO will not meet Russia halfway and suggested the alliance's refusal means they have something to gain from it.

The United States and NATO say the system is designed to help deter threats from countries such as Iran, and is not a threat to Russia. NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen says he believes Russia will be wasting money to build counter-measures against "an artificial enemy that does not exist."

Rasmussen made his comments ahead of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels that begins Wednesday. The ministers are set to meet with their Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to discuss the missile shield and other issues on Thursday.

The two-day session will also take a look at efforts in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the war-torn country in 2014. The meeting will also focus on the ongoing NATO mission in Kosovo.

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

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