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US shield forces Russia to flex its muscles

August 07, 2008 21:56 IST

In reminiscent of the cold war politics, Russia [Images] has threatened to station bombers and missiles on the Polish border if Warsaw decides to host parts of a US missile defence shield on its territory.

'When Poland signs the agreement with the American side about hosting elements of the missile defence system, then we can discuss some additional aspects of military-technical cooperation with Belarus,' said Russia's ambassador to Minsk Alexander Surikov.

'We could be talking about the possible basing of Iskander missiles,' the envoy was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Thursday.

The Polish government, despite public opposition and internal divisions, appears close to allowing the US to station 10 interceptor missiles on its territory, the report said.

According to the British daily, the Russian ambassador noted that the bombers and short-range quasi-ballistic missiles would be stationed in the west of Belarus, Moscow's [Images] most important ex-Soviet ally, once Poland and the US settles on terms of the pact.

Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, Russian military hardware has not been stationed on the border of the European Union. The development indicates the growing diplomatic tussle between Russia and the US over the deployment of the missile defence system in Europe.

The missile defence system, which the United States insists is necessary to protect Europe from a nuclear strike by Iran, has taken on increasing momentum after the Czech Republic agreed to host the shield's radar component.

Convinced that it is the shield's true target, Russia has threatened to retrain its nuclear arsenal on Europe and deploy military hardware in both Belarus and the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

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