Russia: Poland risks attack due to U.S. missiles
WARSAW, Poland - An agreement that will allow the United States to install a missile defense battery in Poland exposes the ex-communist nation to an attack, a Russian general said Friday.
Poland and the United States struck a deal on Thursday to deepen military ties and place a missile interceptor base in Poland.
Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian general staff told reporters Friday that the agreement exacerbates U.S.-Russian relations that are already tense because of fighting between Georgian and Russian forces. He said the deal “cannot go unpunished.”
And in the strongest threat Russia has issued in reaction to plans to put elements of a missile defense system in former Soviet satellite nations, the Interfax news agency quoted Nogovitsyn as saying Poland was risking attack.
“Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent,” Interfax quoted Nogovitsyn as saying.
Moscow had previously threatened to redirect missiles toward Poland if the country agreed to host elements of the missile shield.
Washington says the planned system, which is not yet operational, is needed to protect the U.S. and Europe from possible attacks by missile-armed “rogue states” like Iran. The Kremlin, however, feels it is aimed at weakening Russia’s missile force.
On Thursday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk — speaking in an interview televised on news channel TVN24 — said the United States had agreed to help augment Poland's defenses with Patriot missiles in exchange for placing 10 missile defense interceptors in the Eastern European country.
Tusk said the deal includes a "mutual commitment" between the two nations to come to each other's assistance "in case of trouble."
The clause appeared to be a reference to potential challenges from Russia.
The recent Russian military incursion into Georgia, along with its bombing of Georgian military outposts and airfields, has rattled former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe.
Poland said the conflict in Georgia underlined Poland's need for U.S. military assistance if it were to cooperate on the U.S. missile defense shield.
The United States has also reached an agreement with the Czech government to place a radar component of the shield in that country. That deal still needs approval from Czech parliament.
The Polish premier said Thursday's agreement for the countries to come to one another's defense was "a step toward real security for Poland," as it would take too long for NATO to respond if Poland were threatened.
It would take "days, weeks to start that machinery," Tusk said.
"It is not a good situation when rescue comes to dead people. We must ensure our security from the very first hours of a possible ... conflict," he said.
Tusk said the United States met the Polish demands for a permanent presence of Patriot missiles, which "will be able to effectively protect our territory."
The deal was reached after more than 18 months of back-and-forth, often terse, negotiations between the two countries.