Russia's ambassador to NATO warns of confrontation with Poland

Other News Materials 3 February 2008 18:44 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Russia's ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Sunday warned of a new confrontation between Warsaw and Moscow in connection with plans by the United States to base a missile shield in Eastern Europe.

The warning from Russian ambassador Dmitri Rogosin came in reaction to statements by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Friday concerning military agreements with the US in addition to a planned US deployment of 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland.

Interpreting the Polish move as aggressive, Rogosin said Sunday that "attempts in Poland to take a confrontational approach have always ended tragically - as in the Second World War, when the country lost almost every third inhabitant."

On Friday, Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski said he was "satisfied" Washington had accepted Polish demands to help modernize its air defences, a key condition toward moving forward with the US missile shield plans.

The United States and Poland reached an agreement on the interceptors more than a year ago, but the new government under Prime Minister Donald Tusk has sought additional concessions from Washington.

"We're now hearing from Sikorski things that not even Mr Kaczynski would have brought into play - the establishment of foreign bases on Polish territory," Rogosin said, referring to Tusk's controversial rightwing predecessor Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The United States believes a long-range missile-defence system is needed in Eastern Europe to protect against Iran's growing missile capability.

Russia has strongly objected to the basing of a system in Europe and has threatened to target the sites. Moscow believes the system would threaten its strategic nuclear arsenal.

While stressing US commitment to Poland's defence, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday again denied that Russia was the object of the defence shield.

"There is no way that a few interceptors in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic can degrade the thousands of nuclear warheads that the Russians have," she said.