Russian threat to strike US nuclear missile shield
DMITRY Medvedev, the Russian president, embraced the fiery rhetoric of the Cold War yesterday as he threatened to target and if necessary destroy America's European missile defence shield once it is built.
In what may be the most serious blow to US-Russia relations since President Barack Obama came to power, Mr Medvedev raised the prospect of Russia launching missile attacks on European Union member states such as Poland, Romania and Spain as well as Turkey, a NATO member.
"I have given the armed forces the task of drawing up plans to destroy the information and command and control systems of the (US/NATO) anti-missile shield," Mr Medvedev said.
"Our NATO partners are not for now showing any readiness to take our concerns about the architecture of the European missile shield into account, something which convinces us their plans are aimed at Russia."
He said Russia's anxiety was so great that it would reserve the right to tear up existing nuclear arms control treaties and halt talks about new ones.
The White House immediately rebuffed Mr Medvedev. "We will not in any way limit or change our deployment plans in Europe," said Tommy Vietor, a National Security Council spokesman.
The shield is designed to shoot down missiles from rogue states such as Iran but is years away from being operational. Turkey, Poland, Romania and Spain have all agreed to join what is a diluted version of a controversial plan first proposed by George W Bush, the former president.
The Kremlin has dismissed US assurances as meaningless and initially demanded -- and was refused -- the right to be an equal partner in the project.
Russia has demanded legally binding guarantees from Washington that the system will never be used against it.
Mr Medvedev, who is due to step down from the presidency next May in favour of Vladimir Putin, detailed a long list of concrete military steps his country would now take.
He threatened a series of measures that, if implemented, would take Russia's relations with the West back to the Cold War. These included extending the targeting range of Russia's strategic nuclear missiles, installing a missile early warning system in the Kaliningrad exclave, and re-equipping the country's nuclear arsenal with new warheads that would allegedly be capable of piercing the nascent defence shield. (©The Daily Telegraph, London)