Russia is prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike against the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's proposed European missile shield, to prevent it from intercepting Russian nuclear weapons, the country's chief of the general staff has warned. General Nikola Makarov said that phases three and four of NATO's European Phased Adaptive Approach - or EPAA - missile shield plans for Eastern Europe create a "real" possibility that Russia's nuclear deterrent missiles could be intercepted.
Phase three, in 2018, will see US SM-3 interceptor missiles deployed in Poland - while phase four will see all of the shield's SM-3 sites updated with more advanced versions of the missiles. "A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens," said Makarov. "The deployment of new strike weapons in Russia's south and northwest – including of Iskander systems in Kaliningrad – is one of our possible options for destroying the system's European infrastructure," he said.
Makarov's warning is not the first from Russia regarding the EPAA missile shield, which was first outline by United States President Barack Obama in 2009 - and initially welcomed by Russia. But in November, last year, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that the missile shield sites may be attacked if the US did not provide written assurances that the interceptors would not be targeting Russian missiles.
This week, Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that talks on the missile shield were "close to a dead end" - according to a report in The Washington Post
. And US State Department special envoy Ellen Tauscher said America had "heard it [the threat] before", adding: "We think that's off on the horizon. We think they were showing us what could happen. I think we're far from there, but we're aware of what they're saying." In addition, NATO insisted that the shield is not aimed at negating Russia's nuclear deterrent.This article first appeared on PublicServiceEurope.com's sister site defencemanagement.com Russia threatens pre-emptive missile shield strike