Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will aim missiles at U.S. anti-missile sites in eastern Europe if the United States does not heed Russian concerns about its missile defense plans.
Mr. Medvedev said in a televised statement Wednesday that Russia will deploy long-range missiles in the southern and western parts of the country if it fails to agree with the United States on its plans for an anti-missile shield.
The White House swiftly responded to Mr. Medvedev's statement, saying it will not alter in any way its plans to deploy a missile shield.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor maintained the U.S. stance that the missile defense shield does not threaten Russia's own nuclear deterrent. He said the U.S. wants to enhance missile defense cooperation with Russia in order to provide security for both countries.
He also reiterated the U.S. position that it has been open and transparent with Russia about its plans.
The United States wants to build a land- and sea-based missile defense system to protect NATO and its allies against a possible attack from Iran or North Korea. It insists the missile shield is not aimed at Russia and is purely defensive.
Russia has said that such a system would upset its own nuclear deterrent as well as the strategic weapons balance in Europe.
The Russian president also said Wednesday that Moscow will consider backing out of the New Start disarmament agreement with Washington and other arms control dialogues if the two countries cannot reach an agreement. He also ordered the deployment of a radar missile warning system in the western city of Kaliningrad.
Mr. Medvedev's comments come a day after the U.S. announced it is halting information-sharing with Russia on non-nuclear military forces in Europe. The announcement follows failed talks between Washington and Moscow on reviving a treaty that limits the number of conventional weapons that could be stationed in Europe. Russia stopped providing information on its forces four years ago.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.