Russia calls Romania a 'clear threat' and Nato outpost for hosting US missile shield

US military says missile shield is needed to protect from Iran, not threaten Russia

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 09 February 2017 11:09 GMT
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Speaking separately, Russia's deputy foreign minister the country considers the deployment of Nato troops and military hardware in the Baltic states, Poland and Germany as a threat
Speaking separately, Russia's deputy foreign minister the country considers the deployment of Nato troops and military hardware in the Baltic states, Poland and Germany as a threat

Russia sees Romania as a Nato outpost and "a clear threat" due to it hosting elements of a US anti-missile shield, a senior foreign ministry official has said.

"Romania's stance and the stance of its leadership, who have turned the country into an outpost, is a clear threat for us," Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko told the Interfax news agency in an interview.

The US military says the shield is needed to protect from Iran, not threaten Russia.

The $800m (£637m) Romanian part of the missile shield was switched on in May last year. Another part is due to be built in Poland.

James Mattis says Putin's threat to Nato is biggest threat since WWII

Accusing Romanian authorities of revelling in anti-Russian rhetoric, Mr Botsan-Kharchenko said: "All these decisions... are in the first instance aimed against Russia."

Speaking separately, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said Russia considers the deployment of Nato troops and military hardware in the Baltic states, Poland and Germany as a threat.

Mr Meshkov said Moscow was watching closely and would ensure its own security was guaranteed.

"This deployment is of course a threat for us," he said. "And who said that it will end with this? We do not have such information. For the first time since World War Two we see German soldiers along our borders."

A map showing Nato's military buildup in Eastern Europe

Mr Meshkov's comments come after the United States deployed thousands of soldiers and heavy weaponry to Poland, the Baltic states and southeastern Europe in its largest build-up since the Cold War.

German troops and armour are due to reinforce Lithuania this month under Nato plans.

US and Nato officials say the move is needed to provide extra security and reassurance to European countries after Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea, but Russia says it is part of an aggressive strategy on its borders.

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