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US missile shield will harm Europe, says Putin

A file photo of Russian Premier Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW (BNS): Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said the US missile shield deployment in Europe will harm interests of that continent only.

Addressing an international forum on humanitarian law in St. Petersburg on Monday, Putin said it was unclear who could benefit from these actions. "But we know that the world as a whole, and in particular Europe, will certainly be the losers," he said.

Russia has strongly opposed the US plan of deploying 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and accompanying tracking radar in Czechoslovakia, arguing that it is against their security. But Washington has maintained that the bases are meant for "rogue" states such as Iran.

Unmindful of what the US had to say, Putin said the missile shield in Europe was aimed against Moscow, and that they had no other choice but to respond to it appropriately.

"No matter what our US partners say, this project is aimed against Russia's strategic potential, and we have no choice but to respond to it appropriately," he asserted.

Earlier last month, Russia had threatened to deploy its Iskander-M short-range missiles in the country's Kaliningrad exclave, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if the US missile defence system was put in place.

Putin, meanwhile, also made it clear that Kremlin would abandon its plans provided the new US administration didn't deploy the missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. "As a result, we'll be able to break the dangerous negative trend on the European continent," the agency quoted Putin as saying.

US president-elect Barack Obama is yet to state his stand on the George W Bush administration plans. Immediately after Obama's victory, one of his foreign policy advisers said the president-elect was not committed to the missile shield, and would only continue after its effectiveness was proved.

RIA Novosti said early this month, Washington had provided new proposals to ease Russia's concerns over the plans. According to that, new confidence-building steps would allow Russian monitors access to missile defence facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.

However, Moscow has rejected the new US proposals as “insufficient” and sought total abandonment of the missile shield plan. On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and said that the talks would continue next month.

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