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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Assures Moscow on Missiles

WARSAW -- Russia has nothing to fear from a planned U.S. anti-missile system in Europe, NATO Supreme Allied Commander John Craddock said Friday.

Russia opposes placing elements of the U.S. project in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying this would distort the balance of power in Europe.

Asked at a news conference in Warsaw whether Russia was right to be concerned, Craddock said: "Absolutely not. This missile shield will provide security from attacks from rogue regimes and that's clearly what it's meant for."

The anti-missile system would combine long-range radar and rockets to detect and shoot down missiles carrying nuclear, bacteriological or chemical warheads. Both Poland and Czech Republic are considering hosting parts of it.

President Vladimir Putin has said plans to put parts of the shield in former communist European countries are a "serious factor provoking reduced mutual trust."

In a Feb. 10 speech, Putin denounced NATO's incorporation of countries from Russia's former old sphere of influence such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Estonia.

Craddock said Putin had nothing to fear. "All 26 members are democratic countries," he said. "So expansion closer to Russia's borders cannot be a threat. I cannot understand why it should be feared."