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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prague and Warsaw Favor U.S. Missile-Defense Plan

WARSAW — A U.S. proposal to base a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic moved ahead Monday with both countries indicating agreement as a top Russian general warned that the plan could prompt Moscow to target the former allies with its own missiles.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and his Polish counterpart, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, indicated after meeting in Warsaw that they were ready to work out the conditions under which the United States would put 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and one radar station in the Czech Republic.

"We agreed that both countries will probably give a positive response to the U.S. letter, and only then will we open negotiations," Topolanek said.

"I think it is in our joint interest to negotiate this initiative and to build … the missile defense," he said, offering the clearest indication of agreement so far.

General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, said the United States' move would upset strategic stability in the region. He warned that Russian missiles could target Poland and the Czech Republic if the former Warsaw Pact allies opted to host bases in the latest of a series of increasingly bellicose statements from Moscow.

"If the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic take such a step … the Strategic Missile Forces will be capable of targeting these facilities should the relevant decision be made," Solovtsov said.

The U.S. proposal has become an irritant in U.S.-Russian relations, with President Vladimir Putin sharply criticizing the plan during a speech at a security conference in Munich two weeks ago, saying it risks stoking a new arms race.