BRUSSELS, March 19 (RIA Novosti) - The United States should explain to Russia what changes it made in its European missile defense plans before Moscow draws its conclusion, a Defense Ministry official said on Tuesday.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a news conference on Friday that plans to place upgraded missile interceptors in Poland are being abandoned and that 14 new interceptors will be placed on the US West Coast instead.
“The US statement needs a very serious explanation. We need to hold negotiations to understand what this statement is about, what the United States is scrapping in particular and what is eventually implementing. Only after this we will be drawing conclusions,” said Sergei Koshelev, the head of the ministry's Military Cooperation Department.
Commenting on the issue, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday in an interview with Kommersant daily, that US changes in the missile defense plans had nothing to do with Moscow’s national security concerns.
Russia and NATO initially agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile defense system at the Lisbon summit in November 2010. However, further talks between Russia and the alliance have floundered over NATO’s refusal to grant Russia legal guarantees that the system would not be aimed against Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.
NATO and the United States insist the shield is designed to defend NATO members against missiles from emerging threat nations like North Korea and Iran, and would not be directed at Russia. The alliance has vowed to continue developing and deploying its missile defenses, regardless of the status of missile defense cooperation with Russia.