From AFP: General Nikolai Makarov, chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, raised eyebrows in Washington by saying the START talks, which have dragged past several deadlines, were stuck on the anti-missile issue.

Moscow has reportedly insisted that any new pact regulates both strategic offensive missiles and the anti-missile systems designed to thwart them, a linkage that the United States has never favored.

“The development and deployment of missile defenses is aimed against the Russian Federation,” Makarov was quoted as saying by domestic news agencies.

“The development of these missile defense systems without question weakens our potential nuclear deterrent.”

From the New York Times: “Despite official statements that the missile defense system will ensure our security, this is far from the truth,” General Makarov, above, told Vesti, a television news channel. “It is natural that we view this very negatively, because this to some extent can weaken our missile capability.” (photo: Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI)