August 15, 2008
A Russian general says the recently negotiated deal to allow the United States to place a missile interceptor base in Poland “cannot go unpunished.”
Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian general staff, made the comment to reporters on Friday.
Nogovitsyn was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying Poland was risking attack by agreeing to the deal.
“Poland, by deploying [the system] is exposing itself to a strike –100 per cent,” he said.
It is the strongest language so far from Russian officials in reaction to plans to install a missile defence battery in a former Soviet satellite nation.
Poland and the U.S. reached the agreement Thursday to base American missile interceptors in Poland in exchange for augmenting Polish forces with U.S. Patriot missiles.
The agreement comes in the wake of increasing tensions involving Russia and its former satellite states. Poland and other republics in eastern Europe have been unsettled by Russia’s recent military incursion into Georgia.
The White House said the system, which is not yet running, is needed to protect the U.S. and Europe from possible attacks by missile-armed “rogue states” like Iran. But the Kremlin is convinced it is aimed at Russia’s missile force.
Referring to the “mutual commitment” part of the agreement, Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that NATO would be too slow in coming to Poland’s defence if Poland were threatened, and that the bloc would take “days, weeks to start that machinery.”
The U.S. has also reached an agreement with the Czech Republic to place a radar component of the missile defence system in that country. The deal still needs approval from the Czech parliament.