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    Russia may use 'overkill' missiles to counter U.S. shield

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    In addition to deploying tactical missiles near the Polish border, Russia could use precision-guided air-based weapons to counter U.S. missile defense plans, a Russian military expert said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - In addition to deploying tactical missiles near the Polish border, Russia could use precision-guided air-based weapons to counter U.S. missile defense plans, a Russian military expert said on Monday.

    "Iskander [missile system] is not the most effective combat asset to be used against the ground targets that are now being deployed in some European states. We also have the Air Force, which has precision-guided weapons," said Gen. Pyotr Deinekin, former Air Force commander.

    He said strategic aviation had, in particular, Kh-55 (AS-15 Kent) long-range cruise missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, with an effective range of 4,500 kilometers. (Russian strategic bombers - Image gallery)

    He did not explain why such "overkill" missiles would be needed to engage targets in Central Europe.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates dismissed on Thursday Russia's proposal that the two countries abandon their plans to deploy missiles in Central Europe.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with French daily Le Figaro published on Thursday that Russia would be willing to abandon its plans to deploy short-range missiles near Poland if the U.S. agrees not to set up a missile shield in Central Europe.

    Gates said Medvedev's recent threat to deploy Iskander missiles in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad was "hardly the welcome a new American administration deserves," and that "such provocative remarks are unnecessary and misguided."

    Washington earlier said it had provided new proposals to ease Russia's concerns over the planned deployment of 10 U.S. interceptor missiles in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic, which the Bush administration has said are needed to counter possible attacks from Iran's long-range missiles.

    Russia views the missile defense system as a threat to its national security, and has said that a security agreement based on respect for common interests would remove the need for a missile shield.

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