MOSCOW — Russia on Monday said it saw “no concession” in the U.S. decision to abandon the final phase of its missile shield for Europe while deploying new interceptors against a possible attack from North Korea.
“This is not a concession to Russia, and we do not see it as such,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Kommersant business daily. “Our objections remain.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that 14 more interceptors would be stationed in Alaska — increasing by almost half the 30 already deployed along the western coastline. The aim is to have them in place by 2017.
North Korea has threatened to unleash a second Korean War — backed by nuclear weapons — in response to U.N. sanctions imposed after its third atomic test in February and joint South Korea-U.S. military maneuvers.
The U.S. decision means it will not go through with the fourth phase of its missile defense deployments in Europe under which interceptors trained on Iran were due to have been placed in Poland. Hagel said the decision was part of an overall restructuring of how Washington viewed missile defense and international threats.
Russia has long argued that the European missile shield was aimed against its own nuclear deterrent and has held up negotiations on other disarmament agreements as a result. Ryabkov said that Russia believed that extra U.S. interceptors in Alaska “significantly expand U.S. capabilities in the area of missile defense.
“We are not experiencing any euphoria about this,” he added.
Kommersant said that Ryabkov was due to meet Tuesday in Geneva with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller to discuss the issue further.