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BRUSSELS, November 23 (Itar-Tass) — Missile Defense system that the U.S. and NATO are building in Europe is a defensive one and is meant to rebuff the threats coming out of countries outside the European continent, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday in response to a statement that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had made earlier in the day.
“I have taken note of President Medvedev's statement on missile defence,” Rasmussen said.” NATO's missile defence system, which NATO Heads of State and Government agreed to develop last year at the Libson summit, is designed to defend against threats emanating from outside Europe and is not designed to alter the balance of deterrence.”
“I welcome President Medvedev's willingness not to close the door on continued dialogue with NATO and the U.S. on missile defence and to consider practical cooperation in this area,” he said.
Rasmussen recalled that NATO Heads of State and Government had decided last year to invite Russia to discuss the possibilities of cooperating with us and to develop the NATO-Russia relationship into a strategic partnership. “That offer still stands,” the statement said.
“The suggestion that deployment of missiles in the areas neighbouring the Alliance is an appropriate response to NATO’s system is very disappointing,” Rasmussen said. “Such deployments would be reminiscent of the past and are inconsistent with the strategic relations NATO and Russia have agreed they seek and with the spirit of the dialogue, including on missile defence issues, that they are currently conducting.”
“Cooperation on missile defence would clearly show that NATO and Russia can build security together, not against each other,” Rasmussen indicated. “It would allow us to deal with new threats and old suspicions at the same time. It would show that cooperation, not confrontation, is the way ahead.”
President Medvedev said in a televised address to the nation earlier in the day Russia would take a range of tough steps, including a buildup of its strategic potential and a possible deployment of strike systems in response to the continuation of U.S. plans to set up an antiballistic missile defense system in Europe.
He stressed Russia’s right to renounce the further steps in the field of arms reductions and control, including the pullout from the START treaty.
Russia’s response may reach out as far as the deployment of modern strike systems in the western and southern regions of the country to ensure fire damage to the European component of the European component of the U.S. antimissile system.
One of the steps in this sphere might be the positioning of Iskander missile complexes in the Baltic exclave region of Kaliningrad, which is a special defense area.