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Old October 3rd, 2006, 11:04 PM  
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Default Russia warns Poland against hosting U.S. or NATO missile-defense site

MOSCOW - Russia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday warned Poland against hosting a U.S. or NATO missile-defense site on its territory, saying that it would undermine security and stability and warning of unspecified measures in response, the Interfax news agency reported.

U.S. plans to establish a missile defense system in eastern Europe have upset Russia, which says the move would upset the strategic balance between Moscow and Washington. The United States has been considering Poland or the Czech Republic, both former Soviet satellites that now belong to NATO.

Establishing elements of a U.S. or NATO missile defense system in Poland "could have a negative effect on strategic stability, regional security and relations between (Russia and Poland), Interfax quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin as saying.

He said Moscow would have to take measures to relieve a potential threat and could not rely solely on assurances that such systems would not be directed against Russia, Interfax reported. U.S. officials say the site would be designed to defend Europe against intercontinental-range missiles launched by rogue states such as Iran or North Korea.

Kamynin said the issue would definitely be discussed during Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's upcoming visit to Poland, whose relations with Moscow have been uneasy in recent years.

Kamynin did not say what measures Russia might take in response, but the military chief of staff, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, suggested in a Polish newspaper last month that Moscow could reconsider arms reductions.

Russia opposed Washington's withdrawal in 2002 from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to deploy a national missile defense shield, saying the 30-year-old U.S.-Soviet pact was a key element of international security. At the time, President Vladimir Putin called the decision a mistake that would hurt global security but not threaten Russia.
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