BELGRADE – The new US missile defense systems planned for deployment in Europe are not directed against Russia, US Department of State spokesman Noel Clay told Sputnik on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the head of Russia’s Arms Committee in the upper house of parliament, Viktor Ozerov, said that Moscow could withdraw from the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in response to new missile defense systems being deployed in Eastern Europe.
“The US Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System, including Aegis BMD and other systems deployed as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), is not designed or directed against Russia,” Clay said when asked if Washington is concerned about Russia’s possible exit from the START. “We have made it clear to Russian authorities many times and at the highest levels.”
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow considers the deployment of the US missile defense systems in Europe a direct threat to regional security and stability.
The US Aegis Ashore air defense system is to be officially deployed in Romania on Thurdsay and on Friday the construction of a similar complex is to begin in Poland.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the creation of the ballistic missile defense system in Europe, approved in 2010 during a NATO summit in Lisbon. A group of European countries, including Poland, Romania, Spain and Turkey, agreed to deploy elements of the system on their territories.
The United States and NATO continue to claim that the ballistic missile defense system is aimed primarily at countering threats from Iran and North Korea.