Russian Response to US Missile Defense in Eastern Europe
Late last week, commenting on the Washington's deployment of the new Aegis Ashore missile defense system at the Deveselu military base in Romania, Zakharova said that "what we see from our Western partners cannot be called a betrayal, because a betrayal is only possible from one's close friends. These were nefarious steps – the violation of agreements…Considering how this situation is developing, we of course reserve the right to respond."
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the system being deployed in Romania was clearly not a defensive complex, but part of the US's strategic nuclear capability. "Now, after the deployment of those anti-missile system elements, we'll be forced to think about neutralizing developing threats to Russia's security," Putin said.
The shield, the President added, was another step by NATO aimed at increasing international tensions and attempting to drag Russia into a new arms race. "We're not going to be dragged into this race. We'll go our own way. We'll work very accurately without exceeding the plans to finance the re-equipment of our army and navy, which have already been laid out for the next several years," Putin emphasized.
NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg attempted to calm Moscow's weariness over the 800 million facility by suggesting that the system was "exclusively defensive," and could not be used for offensive purposes "even if we wanted to."
Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work went further, saying the defense shield was really aimed against Iran, not Russia. "As long as Iran continues to develop and deploy ballistic missiles, the United States will work with our allies and partners to defend against this threat," Work said, speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for another Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense site being built in Redzikowo, Poland. That system is expected to become operational in 2018.