Russia tones down criticism of new US missile plans
MOSCOW - Reuters
Russian FM Sergei Lavrov. REUTERS PhotoRussia signaled March 21 that a change in U.S. plans for a European anti-missile shield could help the two sides make progress toward resolving a dispute that has frayed their relations.
The United States announced last week it would station 14 new anti-missile interceptors in Alaska after North Korea threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike, and forgo a new interceptor that would have been deployed in central Europe.
Russia’s point man for U.S. relations, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, said March 21 the planned changes brought a new element to the issue. He called for further dialogue, noting Moscow still had concern that U.S. missile defenses could threaten its security.
“There is no unequivocal answer yet to the question of what consequences all this can have for our security,” Ryabkov said. “The causes for concern have not been removed, but dialogue is needed, it is in our interest and we welcome the fact that the American side also, it appears, wants to continue this dialogue,” he told reporters.
In Brussels, a senior U.S. defense official said Russia was “not a factor” in the U.S. decision to change missile defense plans but there was hope it would allay Russian misgivings.