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Russia Not Worried About US Missile Shield

Russian air force chief Vladimir Mikhailov.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Feb 14, 2007
Russia is "absolutely not worried" about a proposed US missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russian air force chief Vladimir Mikhailov insisted on Wednesday. "This is an attempt to intimidate, but we do not understand who (it's aimed at) and how" they intend to carry it out, Mikhailov told the ITAR-TASS news agency during a visit to Yerevan.

"It is the countries that accept to deploy (the missile shield) who should be worried about ecological and other consequences," he said, insisting that Russia was "absolutely not worried about this."

Mikhailov's comments contradicted previous official statements voicing serious concern over the US project.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman for instance insisted last month that the plan was "a mistaken step with negative consequences for international security."

And General Vladimir Popovkin, who commands Russia's space forces, also said in January that "our analysis shows that the location of the US base would be a clear threat to Russia."

Russian President Vladimir Putin meanwhile vowed on February 1 that his country would come up with an "asymmetrical but highly effective" response to the missile shield plans.

The United States last month said it would soon begin formal talks with the Czech Republic and Poland on deploying a missile defence system in Europe, designed to intercept missile attacks from Iran and North Korea.

The system calls for Interceptor missiles to be deployed in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

Czech president says US missile shield not anti-Russian
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 14 - Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Wednesday that a proposed US missile shield in his country would protect "the free world" and was not aimed at Russia, which has strongly objected.

The project, to be operational by 2012, would base a US radar station in the Czech Republic and Patriot interceptor missiles in Poland -- officially to counter any attack on Europe by North Korea or Iran.

"The target is not Russia," Klaus told a news conference in Tokyo.

"The installation of the defence system would not be there for the defence of the Czech Republic," he said.

"We are part of the free world, we are part of NATO, we are part of the community of the Western world. So this is our contribution to the whole system of defence and security in this part of the world."

The US deployment in former Soviet bloc states has infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has accused Washington of provocation and warned Moscow has a "highly effective" response to the missile shield.

The project has also caused some jitters in Czech villages around the proposed radar station, which would host some 200 to 400 US experts and soldiers.

An agreement needs the consent of two thirds of the two houses of the Czech parliament and is seen as far from certain.

But Klaus said he stood behind the idea.

"The Czech National Security Council, where I participate, opened the doors to such a discussion and suggested go-ahead with the project," Klaus said.

earlier related report
Czechs Protest Outside Parliament Against Missile Shield Plans
Prague (AFP) Feb 13 - Several hundred people protested outside parliament Tuesday evening against plans to let the United States install part of its missile shield system at a Czech military base. Some demonstrators set up tents and paper models of radars and missiles during the protest, which was organised by the "No Bases" movement.

"We want the citizens of the Czech Republic to be able to express their views on the question of installing this radar base on their country's territory," one of the organisers, Jan Tamas, told reporters.

The centre-right government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has already said it supports the US request to use its military base at Jince, in the Brdy hills south of Prague.

But both houses of parliament will have to approve the proposal, and lower house lawmakers appear to be divided on the issue.

The US embassy in Prague said the planned deployment of 200 to 400 US military personnel and technicians from 2011 would represent an investment of 1.6 billion dollars (1.3 billion euros).

But the main opposition Social Democrats have called for a referendum on the question.

The Communist Party has organised a series of protest demonstrations, arguing that any deployment could provoke another Cold War.

The "No Bases" movement claims to have gathered 12,000 signatures against the US missile shield. Another petition compiled by the young communists claims 55,000.

The base at the centre of the row was once occupied by Soviet troops.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Israeli Arrow Hits Missile At Night
Washington (UPI) Feb 13, 2007
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