NATO, Russia Still at Odds About Missile Shield

Posted December 8th, 2011 at 4:35 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO and Russia have failed to achieve a breakthrough on Russia's opposition to the alliance's plan to build a missile defense shield in Europe.

Alliance officials, including NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday in Brussels.

Rasmussen and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later said Russia has no reason to be concerned about the missile defense shield.

NATO and the U.S. say the system is intended to help deter threats from countries such as Iran.

But Lavrov accused the alliance of downplaying Russia's concerns about the defense shield. He insisted Russia has reason to be concerned, saying the shield's planned radar would cover a large part of Russian territory.

Russia has said it is prepared to respond to NATO's missile defense plans by deploying missiles in areas near members of the alliance.

Last week, Russia officially opened a new anti-missile radar station in the Baltic Sea region of Kaliningrad.

NATO and U.S. officials say they hope to reach an agreement on the defense shield by the middle of next year.

Russia says it is willing to cooperate with the West and work together to share technology and jointly build a missile defense system — a proposal NATO has rejected. Russian Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov questioned why NATO will not meet Russia halfway and suggested the alliance's refusal means it has something to gain from the defense shield.