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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Radar Base Seen as Threat to Russia

A top Russian general said Monday that deploying elements of a U.S. missile-defense system in former Warsaw Pact nations would be a "clear threat" to Russia, news agencies reported.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official insisted that placing the system on Polish and Czech soil would strengthen Europe's defense against a rogue nuclear attack but would not threaten Russia.

Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin, commander of Russia's Space Forces, spoke two days after Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek announced that the United States has asked to position a radar base in his country that would be part of a global missile-defense system.

"Our analysis shows that that the placement of a radar station in the Czech Republic and an anti-missile position in Poland would create a clear threat for Russia," Popovkin said, RIA-Novosti and Interfax reported.

U.S. efforts to deploy part of a missile-defense system in former Soviet satellite states that are now NATO members have drawn repeated opposition from Russia, adding to strains between the two Cold War superpowers.

Following Topolanek's statement Saturday, former Security Council chief Andrei Kokoshin, who now heads the State Duma's CIS Affairs and Relations With Russian Nationals Abroad Committee, warned that lawmakers would recommend "retaliatory measures" to maintain strategic stability and ensure Russia's security.

The United States has been negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic, both former communist states now in NATO, as it explores setting up missile defense sites in Eastern Europe. The U.S. request to build only an X-band radar facility in the Czech Republic could indicate that Washington is considering putting launchers for anti-missile missiles in Poland.

In an interview published Monday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita that Moscow had nothing to fear.

"We believe that building infrastructure of the anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech [Republic] will significantly boost the defenses of a united Europe," Fried said.

"I want to stress that the anti-missile system is not aimed at Russia," he said.

The United States is investing billions of dollars per year in a Missile Defense Initiative system, which would combine long-range radar and ballistic rockets to detect and shoot down missiles carrying nuclear, bacteriological or chemical warheads.

Fried said Washington had made a specific offer to Warsaw and Prague last week to start detailed negotiations, which he said could last for months, on hosting a part of the system.

(AP, Reuters)