West pushing Russia into arms race: top general

7th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's top general on Wednesday warned it was being pushed into a new arms race with the West due to the deployment of a US-backed missile defence shield for Europe.

Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov told foreign military attaches that the armed forces were already pushing ahead with President Dmitry Medvedev's plans to step up security and deploy missiles along Russia's western border.

"Russia does not need a new arms race, but we are being pushed into one," Makarov said.

"Why is Russia being disengaged from Europe? Who needs this? We are ready to cooperate and jointly build a missile defence system," Makarov said in reference to a proposal already rejected by Washington and NATO.

"Why is no one willing to meet us half way? That means this is to someone's interest."

Medvedev last month announced that Russia was ready to deploy intermediate range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave that borders EU members Poland and Lithuania.

Russia later also switched on a new radar warning system against incoming missiles in Kaliningrad and said it reserved the right to strike NATO's European shield components if its demands were not met.

The Kremlin has long opposed a new missile shield that Washington says is meant to protect Europe from a possible attack from Iran but which Russia fears could make its own nuclear arsenal ineffective.

But NATO has rejected Russia's demand to build a common system that shares sensitive data and allows Moscow to have a say in when to respond to a possible attack.

Medvedev's warning last month came just ahead of legislative elections that were won by the United Russia party with a reduced majority. Several analysts said the announcement was electioneering but the president denied this was the case.

The European Union and Washington have since slammed the conduct of the polls, drawing a furious response from Moscow.

© 2011 AFP

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