A top Russian military official says Moscow retains the right to a preemptive strike on the US-led missile system in Europe if Washington refuses to engage in constructive dialog over the issue.
“Considering the destabilizing nature of the [American] ABM system, namely the creation of an illusion of inflicting a disarming [nuclear] strike with impunity, a decision on pre-emptive deployment of assault weapons could be taken when the situation gets harder,” Chief of General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces General Nikolay Makarov said on Thursday.
Speaking at the Moscow Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) conference, Makarov said Russia has no plans to deploy its missile defense facilities outside its national territory.
“We did not and do not have plans to deploy Russian missile defense facilities outside of national territory. Such an approach would exclude the influence of Russian missile defense facilities on the deterrence potential of any state, a participant in the project,” he added.
Russia has already threatened to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Region following the rejection by Washington of Moscow’s proposition to develop a joint European missile system.
Russia has repeatedly objected to the deployment of the missile system, saying Moscow is the main reason for the US-backed move, as it holds a significant number of nukes.
However, the head of the NATO delegation present at the ABM conference, Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Wershbow, said that Russia’s arguments do not convince him and that the US-led system would ‘never target Russia.’
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that talks between the United States and Russia over the European missile system have reached a dead-end.