Moscow warns of arms race if missile defence talks with NATO fail
Russia will beef up its forces on the NATO front if talks between Brussels and the Kremlin on missile defence fail to move towards resolution by the end of 2011, a senior government official said Friday, DPA reported.
"The talks right now are at a dead end," said Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, told the Interfax news agency.
"If they (NATO) do not by the end of the year tell us exactly what they're planning ... we will respond."
His comments came ahead of Monday's Russia-NATO summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
A US-led plan to set up a missile defence network in Eastern Europe would, if put into operation, pose a direct threat to Russian national security, Rogozin said.
The missile defence network proposed by Washington envisions the stationing of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic to protect NATO nations.
Russian officials have repeatedly stated that such a network could also intercept Russian missiles and so would give Washington a new capacity to shoot most of them down in a confrontation with Moscow. Currently, neither nation has a meaningful capability to destroy the the other's incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"We will never give any one control over our 'red' button, never," Rogozin said. "We hope, after the discussions, that they (NATO) will have a more complete understanding of the Russian position."
Russian officials on Thursday said the former Soviet republic Belarus, which is flanked on two sides by NATO states, will likely become the first foreign recipient of Russia's advanced S-400 air defence system, which is designed to shoot down missiles.
Rogozin repeated an offer first made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in May that, rather than each establishing its own anti-missile in Eastern Europe, NATO and Russia should set up a joint defence system linking both sides' air defence radars.