The foreign ministers of Russia and Belarus say their governments will jointly develop a military response to the European deployments of a U.S.-designed missile shield that Moscow sees as a threat to global security.
Sergei Lavrov and his Belarusian counterpart, Uladzimer Makey, announced the decision to cooperate in countering the U.S. shield on Monday in Minsk. Neither official offered details.
Their meeting comes just days after NATO activated an $800 million missile defense site in southern Romania — a key component in a system that NATO and U.S. officials say is designed to counter ballistic missile threats from Iran. Further shield deployments in Poland are expected to be completed by 2020.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin scoffed at Western claims that the missile system is designed to fend off threats from Tehran. He cited the recent nuclear deal between Western powers and Iran to bolster his claim that the threat from Iran no longer exists, and that the West's real goal is to contain Russia's strategic deterrence capabilities.
U.S. officials have repeatedly rejected Moscow's claims, with State Department official Frank Rose saying last week that "nothing could be further from the truth."