Russia has accused America of starting a new arms race by locating part of its missile defence shield in Poland and warned that its response would go beyond diplomatic measures, according to Telegraph.Condoleezza Rice and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsk signed a deal to deploy part of a US missile on Polish territory Photo: AFP
The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who yesterday signed a deal with Warsaw to install a silo of 10 interceptor missiles on Poland’s Baltic Coast, just over 100 miles from Russian territory, described Russian paranoia as “bizarre”.
The deal, signed at a ceremony in Warsaw with Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski, would allow for a deployment by 2012.
Russia has already promised to target the new installation, warning Poland that agreeing to the deal exposed it “100 per cent” to Russian military strikes, possibly with nuclear missiles.
Last night the Russian foreign ministry said its response to the shield “would go beyond diplomacy” and said the deal was creating a new arms race in the European “continent and beyond its borders.”
After signing the deal however, Miss Rice said such Russian threats “border on the bizarre” and promised that the US would “guarantee” Poland’s territory.
She added that the current diplomatic frostiness between Washington and Moscow did not compare with the decades long ideological standoff of the 20th century.
“I don’t think this is a new Cold War,” she said. “It is a difficult time but I think we shouldn’t overstate the depth of the difficulties.”
Moscow has accused America of using the shield to build a ring of steel around Russia and undermine its strategic nuclear deterrent, but Miss Rice insisted that was not the case.
“This is a system that is defensive and is not aimed at anyone,” she said.
“This is an agreement that will establish a missile defence site that will help us to deal with the new threats of the 21st century of a long-range missile threats from countries like Iran or from North Korea.”
Russian suspicions of a new western-led arms race were exacerbated by the timing of the deal, which was struck last week as Russian forces entered Georgian territory in the Caucasus.
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said it was nothing but “fairy tales” to suggest the shield was only directed against “rogue states”.
Mr Sikorski has insisted that the timing of the deal was “pure coincidence” and said Russia would be invited to inspect the base to ensure that Moscow was not its target.
Despite such assurances, however, the war in the Caucasus has had a dramatic effect on public opinion in Poland, previously sceptical about the benefits of hosting the shield.
Latest surveys reveal that a majority of Poles now back the agreement, which is likely to be ratified by a comprehensive majority in the country’s parliament.
Some 58 percent of people are now in favour of the missile shield, almost twice the number who supported the deal six months ago.
That was when negotiations between the US and Poland over the missile silo appeared stalled, following 12 months of discussions.
A new Polish government elected last year appeared determined to strike to toughest deal possible in return for Polish cooperation with Washington.
Above all, new centrist Prime Minister Donald Tusk wanted American Patriot missile batteries, capable of destroying incoming short-range warheads, on Polish territory.
Under the terms of the deal signed yesterday, a US patriot battery will be relocated to Poland by 2009.
“The presence of the Patriot battery which will defend our territory and the US installation is a practical dimension of this watershed agreement,” Mr Tusk said.