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December 3, 2021

Russia voices concern, threatens to deploy missiles close to Poland

President Dmitry Medvedev subsequently approved a new military doctrine identifying NATO expansion as a national threat and reaffirming the country’s right to use nuclear weapons if its existence is threatened.

MOSCOW – Russia Friday said it was concerned by Romania’s decision to host interceptor missiles as part of a U.S. plan to protect Europe and demanded clarification. “We certainly have concerns in this regard. There is a demand for clarification,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, quoted by Reuters.

The Romanian deployment is part of a revamped U.S. missile defence approach taken by President Barack Obama after he scrapped a plan for a radar site and interceptor rockets in the Czech Republic and Poland. Russia had fiercely opposed that deployment, saying the shield could be used to undermine its nuclear deterrent. The Kremlin threatened to deploy Iskander missiles near Poland’s border if it went ahead.

Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin said Friday that Russia wanted “assurances” that the system could not intercept Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles. “Maybe it is against Iran, but this system could be aimed against any other country, including against Russia’s strategic nuclear potential,” he said in comments on Echo Moskvy radio.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said on Friday Moscow “expects the United States to provide an exhaustive explanation” on Romania.

Rogozin said the plans would not affect Russia’s talks with the United States on a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, but his statements were contradicted by the country’s deputy prime minister on Saturday.

“It is impossible to talk seriously about the reduction of nuclear capabilities when a nuclear power is working to deploy protective systems against vehicles to deliver nuclear warheads possessed by other countries,” Sergei Ivanov said at an international security conference in Munich, according to RIA Novosti. Ivanov reiterated that Moscow will seek explanations from the United States on the planned deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe.

He said Russia unilaterally cut its tactical nuclear arsenals by 75% in the early 1990s, but the United States did respond with a similar move and even failed to withdraw its weapons from Europe. Ivanov said Russia will demand that nuclear weapons be kept on the territory of countries which they belong to. Ivanov, however, confirmed earlier reports that the new bilateral nuclear arms pact could be signed in the first half of this year adding that ratification may take place in the fall.

NATO expansion seen as national threat

Meanwhile, President Dmitry Medvedev approved Friday a new military doctrine identifying NATO expansion as a national threat and reaffirming Russia’s right to use nuclear weapons if the country’s existence is threatened.

The doctrine identifies the expansion of NATO to Eastern Europe and U.S. plans to create an anti-missile shield in Europe as concerns for national security, although it also states that the likelihood of a nuclear conflict has abated.

As Russia’s conventional troops lack modern equipment and undergo a painful reform aimed at creating professional armed forces, Moscow relies on its nuclear arsenal as a last resort, the document, published on the Kremlin website, says, according to Reuters.

But the new guidelines do not follow through on the idea floated last year by the chief of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, of allowing the use of nuclear weapons in regional conflicts. “Some clever people won over those who wanted to scare everybody with Russian nuclear weapons,” said military analyst Alexander Golts.

The doctrine says that one of the “main external threats of war” comes from NATO’s expansion east to Russia’s borders and pinpoints the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, missiles and states with nuclear weapons as a separate danger. “The creation and deployment of strategic anti-missile systems that undermine global stability,” is also named as a threat.

Voronin slams missile plan

Romania`s initiative to host missiles as part of a U.S. missile defence shield in Europe could turn neighbouring Moldova into a front-line area, Moldovan ex-president Vladimir Voronin said on Sunday, quoted by RIA Novosti. Voronin, who is leader of Moldova`s Communist Party, said Romania`s position on the U.S. missile shield and also open support for it from the Moldovan current leadership could have disastrous consequences for security in the region.

Moldovan Communists earlier demanded from Moldova`s government to issue a protest to Romania over its U.S. missile plans, pointing to the inadmissibility of deploying U.S. missile shield elements on Romanian territoryry.

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