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US missile defense system in Romania threatens Russia’s security, says diplomat

The US missile defense system Aegis Ashore was deployed at the Deveselu Military Base in May 2016

BUCHAREST, August 2. /TASS/. The US missile defense system Aegis Ashore stationed at a military base in the Romanian commune of Deveselu threatens Russia’s security. Diplomat from the Russian Embassy in Bucharest Pavel Alexeyenko wrote on Facebook that it is proved by the words of Romanian Minister of Defense Mihai Fifor, who said in an interview with the TV channel Antena 3 on Tuesday that his country "has a military base with ballistic missiles in Deveselu." This wording, corrected by the minister later, sparked a large scandal.

"Fifor’s statement is another proof that the American shield in Deveselu is a direct and immediate threat to Russian national security. Thank you for this spontaneous truth, Mr Fifor!" the Russian diplomat wrote on social media on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, his statement was cited by numerous Romanian mass media, including the Mediafax agency.

Some local observers consider the Romanian minister’s statement as the possible confession that there are ballistic missiles at the Deveselu Military Base. Political analyst Stelian Tanase noted that "there are either ballistic missiles there, as Fifor said live," and then the minister should be removed from office and handed over to the tribunal for the divulgence of state secrets, or "this was just a slip of the tongue," which, however, should arouse mistrust in Romania among its NATO partners. On Wednesday, the leaders of three opposition parties - the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Save Romania Union (USR) and the People's Movement Party (PMP) - demanded the minister’s resignation.

Fifor himself stated later that he never said that there are ballistic missiles in Deveselu and supposed that his words could have been misinterpreted. "I never said there are any ballistic missiles in Deveselu," he told Mediafax. "Anyway, it is hard to believe that a defense minister could say such a thing. I think this is misinterpretation."

The US missile defense system Aegis Ashore was stationed at the Deveselu Military Base in May 2016. It includes the command and control center, Mk-41 vertical launching systems and SM-3 missile defense interceptors and is serviced by 200 US soldiers.

The Russian Foreign Ministry repeatedly stated that by deploying Aegis Ashore systems in Eastern European countries Washington violates its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).