Despite U.S. change, Russia sticks to missile-shield demand

Moscow also wants technical information about NATO

From Steve Gutterman, ReutersRussia reacted coolly on Monday to a change in U.S. plans for a European missile shield that Moscow has vehemently opposed, saying it would stick to its demand for binding guarantees that the system would not be used to shoot down its missiles.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry suggested that the U.S. shift, which analysts say should ease Russia’s concern that the shield could compromise its security, is unlikely to end a dispute that has strained relations between the former Cold War foes. . . .

In its first official response to [Secretary of Defense Chuck] Hagel’s statement, however, Russia said it would continue to call for legally binding guarantees and convincing technical evidence that U.S. missile defence systems were not aimed against Russia.

"The new plan shows that the United States continues to adhere to a course aimed at strengthening its global anti-missile defences and increasing their effectiveness," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We believe this confirms the need to work out reliable, legally binding guarantees that American missile defence efforts are not aimed against Russia," it said, adding that Moscow also wants technical information that would prove there is no threat. . . .

In its statement on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the European shield is not the only aspect of U.S. missile defences that is a cause for worry. 

Moscow "has also expressed concern about the spread of this approach in other regions of the world, including the Asia-Pacific region", it said.

China, whose new leader Xi Jinping is to meet [Russian President Vladimir] Putin this week during his first trip abroad as president, said on Monday that strengthening U.S. anti-missile defences would "intensify antagonism."   (photo: BBC)

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