July 8, 2008 / 5:52 PM / 11 years ago

Russia: will use military means if U.S. deploys shield

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Tuesday it would use military means if the United States deployed a missile defense shield close to its borders, a threat analysts said was aimed at stoking European opposition to the shield.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Moscow would be forced to use “military-technical methods” if a U.S. deal on building part of the shield in the Czech Republic was ratified by parliament.

“If the real deployment of an American strategic missile defense shield begins close to our borders, then we will be forced to react not with diplomatic methods, but with military-technical methods,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its www.mid.ru website that the U.S. missile shield would undermine global security and Moscow's strategic deterrent. It said Moscow's proposals to Washington on the shield had been ignored.

Military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said Moscow was using typical Cold War rhetoric to discourage the Czech parliament from ratifying the shield agreement, signed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Czech foreign minister.

“That is why it is very unspecific but sounds threatening,” he said. “It is psychological pressure, the same sort that was used in the 1980s by the Soviet Union, when the United States deployed cruise missiles in Europe, in an attempt to boost the anti-missile, anti-U.S. protests.”

Russia’s United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the Foreign Ministry statement did not mean military action but a change of “strategic posture”.

“If you are talking about military action, this of course is not the case,” Churkin said in New York.

Former President Vladimir Putin, who is now prime minister, said in 2007 that Russia could aim missiles at European countries if the U.S. missile shield, which Moscow considers a threat to national security, goes ahead.

Russian generals have threatened to deploy tactical missiles in neighboring Belarus and to resume production of short and medium-range nuclear missiles in response to Washington’s missile defense plans.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Elizabeth Piper

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