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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

General Calls U.S. Radar 'Big Mistake' for Prague

General Yury Baluyevsky said Tuesday that the Czech Republic would be making a "big mistake" to host a U.S. missile defense shield on its soil and urged Prague to delay a decision until a new U.S. president is elected.

The Czech Republic is considering whether to accept a radar station that would form part of a U.S. missile shield -- a system designed to intercept and destroy missiles from "rogue states" but which Moscow sees as a threat to its security.

"We say it will be a big mistake by the Czech government to put this radar site on Czech territory," Baluyevsky, head of the General Staff, told reporters after meeting Czech Deputy Defense Minister Martin Bartak.

Baluyevsky said U.S. and Russian officials would meet in September in Moscow for consultations on the missile shield.

He said the Czech Republic should hold off on deciding whether to participate until after the U.S. presidential election, scheduled for late 2008 to replace President George W. Bush.

"A decision will be made by the Czech side only after the evaluation of all conditions, technical and otherwise," Baluyevsky said. "I and my Russian colleagues simply ask that that process continue through to October or November 2008, and I think you can all guess why."

Asked by a reporter to clarify, he said: "A new administration in the United States might re-evaluate the current administration's decisions on missile defense."

Baluyevsky made his comments on the 39th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia to crush the "Prague Spring," when Soviet tanks ended an attempt by the government of the day to promote liberal reforms.

Baluyevsky said the Czech stance was based on political rather than military considerations. "There are unfounded allegations that Russia is attempting to disrupt the peace and tranquility of Western Europe," he said.

Bartak stressed that the Czech government had not yet made a decision. "The most important thing I can say is that we have not yet said the final word on this, and we will not until we have explored all avenues," he said.

Baluyevsky said Moscow would use the consultations with U.S. officials in September to push its counter-proposal to the missile shield, involving a joint missile defense system.

As part of that proposal, President Vladimir Putin has offered the United States use of a Russian-operated radar station in Azerbaijan and the use of another radar system in the Krasnodar region.