Thursday, November 13, 2008
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday blasted Russia’s threat to point missiles at western Europe as he met NATO counterparts to discuss Ukraine’s membership prospects.
Gates said that a threat by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, within hours of the US election triumph of Barack Obama, to place missiles near the border with Poland was “hardly the welcome a new American administration deserves.”
“Such provocative remarks are unnecessary and misguided,” he told reporters after the meeting in Estonia.
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Just a day after Obama’s win, Medvedev threatened to shift missiles to Kaliningrad, a Baltic Sea enclave sandwiched between ex-communist NATO and European Union members Poland and Lithuania, and already home to a large Russian base.
Medvedev said the move would “neutralise” a planned missile defence system to be deployed by 2013-14 in Poland and the Czech Republic, also a NATO member that was once part of the Soviet bloc.
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Although the United States insists its missile shield is to protect against what it calls “rogue states” such as Iran, Russia says it is a security threat.