Belarus backs Russia’s missile plan to counter U.S. shield

Belarus backs Russia’s missile plan to counter U.S. shield

17:00 | 19/ 12/ 2008

MINSK, December 19 (RIA Novosti) – The Belarusian president said on
Friday he fully supported Russia’s idea to deploy short-range missiles
in its Kaliningrad exclave in response to a U.S. missile shield in
Central Europe.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened in November to deploy
Iskander-M short-range missiles in the country’s westernmost region,
which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if the U.S. missile
defense system was deployed in Central Europe.

"I absolutely support this statement by Medvedev. He simply warns the
Americans that there is a response – a low-cost response – to the
deployment of a missile-defense system. And he warns all the Europeans
who are now ready to station these systems on their soil," Alexander
Lukashenko said.

He said on Thursday that Belarus had no plans to respond to U.S. plans
to deploy a missile defense system in Central Europe.

"Belarus is not yet going to react to missile defense deployment in
Europe. First of all, there is no missile defense in Europe, and
second, it is big money we don’t have yet," Lukashenko said.

However, he added that if necessary, the country would find the money
to respond.

Lukashenko arrived in Moscow on Friday ahead of talks on Monday with
Medvedev to discuss Russian gas prices in 2009.

Over the weekend, Lukashenko will play in a match between a team of
world stars and officials from Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom, the
Belarusian president’s press office said, without saying which team the
president, an avid ice hockey fan, would play for.

Belarus has joined Russia in condemning U.S. plans to set up an
interceptor missile base in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech
Republic, saying the missile shield would destroy the strategic balance
of forces and threaten national security.

The United States says the system is needed to protect against attacks
from "rogue" states such as Iran.

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