Russia has expressed its concern over American plans to deploy a new missile defense shield in Southeast Asia.
"The continuing growth of the US potential in what we call the Far East – the Asia-Pacific region – does not go unnoticed in Russia," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said at a nonproliferation conference in Moscow. “We are closely following what is happening between the USA and its allies in Asia.”
According to the diplomat, “important events” are unfolding in the region and “a lot has already been achieved,” cites Interfax.
Moscow’s concerns about the situation arise from the technology involved, as well as the “geography and the US capability to deploy these assets in different locations.”
It is important that Washington eases these concerns. Otherwise, “there is a set of measures worked out by the Russian leadership,” Ryabkov noted.
Earlier, it was reported that Washington was planning to expand its missile defense in Asia in response to threats from North Korea and to counter China’s growing missile capabilities.
The buildup could include an early-warning radar system on a southern Japanese island and possibly another one in Southeast Asia. These two new radars would supplement the one already installed in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan in 2006.
The US global missile defense shield – in particular its European sector – has long been a stumbling block in the relations between Moscow and Washington. Russia worries that the planned system may pose a threat to its national security. The US has so far refused to provide legally-binding guarantees that the European missile defense assets would not be targeted against Russia.
“The US missile defense system – is surely one of the key issues on today’s agenda because it involves Russia’s vital interests,” President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with RT.
The differences on the issue can only be solved if both sides accept as an axiom that they are “reliable partners and allies for each other.” That would mean the parties “jointly do missile threat assessments and control this defense system together,” Putin said.
The president stressed that Russia had done what it could and offered to work on the system together. However, the American partners are “refusing to go along.” Moscow is set to continue the dialogue on the matter, he stressed.
“But naturally, as our American partners proceed with developing their own missile defense we shall have to think of how we can defend ourselves and preserve the strategic balance,” Putin added.
In November last year, then-President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia could place offensive weaponry on its borders with Europe as one possible measure against the deployment of American elements of missile defense shield in the region.