US sets up missiles near Russian border

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The Independent Online

A battery of Patriot missiles has arrived in Poland, along with dozens of American soldiers who will spend the next two years teaching the Polish military to operate the advanced guided-missile system at a base just a few miles from the Russian border.

Though Russia had expressed its strong opposition to having a US military installation close to its border, there was no initial reaction from Moscow to the arrival of the missiles – perhaps an indication that it wants to play down the matter after failing to stop the deployment.

Andrew Paul, a spokesman for the US embassy in Warsaw, said the battery arrived on Sunday at a base in Morag, 37 miles from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in January, when the location was announced, that he couldn't comprehend the need "to create the impression as if Poland is bracing itself against Russia".

The Patriot garrison was a Polish condition for a 2008 deal with Washington to host a long-range missile defence base meant to protect the US and Europe from Iranian attacks. That plan, developed and negotiated by the Bush administration, angered Russia and was later reconfigured by President Barack Obama. Mr Bush's envisioned missile defence interceptors were separate from the Patriot missiles, which have a shorter range and have not provoked Russian anger as greatly as the missile defence plan had.