The Czech government Friday welcomed a deal to base US missile interceptors in Poland, part of a Pentagon project that includes a tracking radar on Czech soil.
"We are glad that Poland and the US made this agreement, which is also good for the Czech Republic and NATO," deputy foreign minister Tomas Pojar told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
He questioned comments by some Russian politicians who sought to suggest the agreement was reached hastily in response to Russia's military assault on pro-Western Georgia.
"It would have happened even without the events in Georgia," Pojar said in a telephone interview.
He said he was not surprised that Russia, in a first reaction, reportedly cancelled a planned trip to Poland by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"Something like this was to be expected," he said.
Under the Pentagon plan, the US will base 10 ballistic missile interceptors in Poland. Under a July accord with the US, the Czech Republic will host the radar to guide the interceptors.
Parliamentary approval is needed in both countries for the project to go ahead.
Russia fervently opposes the missile shield, despite US assurances that it counters threats from countries like Iran and is too small to undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent, which comprises several thousand warheads atop long-range missiles.