Rogozin Says Set to Work With NATO

Russia's new representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, offered a trademark nationalist farewell Thursday before heading to Brussels -- but stressed that he was prepared to work constructively with the alliance.

"A country has the right to send either a traitor or a patriot," Rogozin told a news conference when asked about taking his jingoist reputation to the Western military alliance he has accused of carrying out the "aggressive interests of the United States."

Rogozin, a former State Duma deputy who developed a strong following among nationalist voters before falling out with the Kremlin last year, made it clear he is a patriot.

"I am a patriot of my country," he said.

Rogozin said he would arrive Sunday in Brussels and meet NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer the following day, an itinerary confirmed by NATO spokesman Robert Pszel.

"The Secretary General is looking forward to meeting Mr. Rogozin for his courtesy call as representative Monday," Pszel said by telephone.

Rogozin accused Washington of violating NATO solidarity by offering a missile-defense shield to former Warsaw Pact members Poland and the Czech Republic.

Elements of the missile shield located in the two countries could make them targets for "hypothetical missile attacks," he said.

While Washington and NATO claim that the missile shield is purely a defensive measure against "rogue states" like Iran, Moscow maintains that it poses a potential threat to its own security.

Rogozin complained that while NATO claimed a threat from the south, the alliance had expanded eastward. "Maybe their compass is out of whack," he said.

Russia can help with directional difficulties, Rogozin said, "We have our own [compass]."