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    Russia 'could answer U.S. shield with orbital ballistic missiles'

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    MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could put in place an orbital ballistic missile system in response to U.S. missile defense plans for Central Europe, a senior Russian military expert said on Thursday.

    The U.S. plans to deploy a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in northern Poland as part of a U.S. missile shield for Europe and North America against possible attacks from "rogue states," including Iran. Russia strongly opposes the possible deployment of the U.S. missile shield, viewing it as a threat to its national security.

    "A program could be implemented to create orbital ballistic missiles capable of reaching U.S. territory via the South Pole, skirting U.S. air defense bases," said Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, former chief of staff of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, now vice president of the Academy of Security, Defense and Law Enforcement Studies.

    He said in its time, the Soviet Union had abandoned such missiles in accordance with the START I Treaty.

    He added, however, that since the U.S. missile defense site in Central Europe was still only a plan, Russia "must not for the time being spook Europe" with such military options.

    Russian experts have lately come up with a host of proposals to counter the U.S. missile defense plans, some verging on the bizarre.

    Alexander Pikayev, head of the disarmament and conflict resolution department at the Russian Academy of Sciences' World Economics and International Relations Institute, suggested Russia should reopen a 'spy' facility in Cuba to gather intelligence on the United States.

    Russian daily Izvestia quoted Defense Ministry sources as saying Russian strategic bombers may soon be deployed at airbases in Cuba, Venezuela and Algeria.

    Another analyst suggested a Russian boycott on Czech beer in response to the placement of a U.S. missile defense radar in the Czech Republic could deliver a crippling blow to the Czech economy.

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