Moscow: In its bid to counter Western plans for a US missile shield in Europe, Russia on Tuesday launched a state-of-the art antimissile radar with a detection range of 6,000 kilometres, close to the borders of NATO alliance members Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic coast.
Sticking to his last week`s threat to take steps to counter US-led NATO missile defence system in Europe posing mortal danger for Moscow`s nuclear deterrence, President Dmitry Medvedev said, "This is the first signal of Russia`s readiness for an adequate response to the threats posed by European AMD to our strategic nuclear forces."
He was addressing the top military commanders after inaugurating the anti missile radar in Russia`s Baltic Exclave of Kaliningrad.
The Voronezh-DM radar station has been working in test mode for the whole of 2011. There were no technical failures over this period, Interfax news agency reported, quoting a source in the Defence Ministry.
With the effective detection range of 6,000 kilometres, the Voronezh-DM is capable of working in tandem with Moscow`s missile defence system.
"If our signal is not heard, as I said on November 23, we will continue deploying other means of defence," Medvedev said in his televised remarks.
"When they tell us - this is not meant against you - I would like to say the following today dear friends, this radar station that started its work today is also not meant against you. But it is meant for us and for the tasks that we
set before us," Medvedev said.
Russia, which after the rejection of its idea of a common East-West missile defence system, is seeking legally binding guarantees from the US and NATO that the European AMD will not target Russian strategic nuclear assets.
However, Washington and NATO have refused such guaranties to Moscow and have reiterated that European AMD will be for the protection from the `rogue` Iranian and North Korean missiles.
This message was clearly conveyed to Medvedev by the US
President Barack Obama during their meeting on the sidelines
of APEC Summit in Honolulu earlier this month, sources here
"We can no longer be satisfied with a common statement
that the phased and adaptive AMD that is being put in place is
not directed against Russia," Medvedev told commanders.
He went on: "Those are empty words, which unfortunately
do not guarantee the protection of our interests. If other
steps are taken, we are ready to listen to them, but in any
case, verbal statements alone will not suffice."
In his special statement on November 23 Medvedev also
threatened to deploy short range Iskander killer missiles to
target European AMD sites in NATO countries in Kaliningrad and
South of the country, and tightening of protection of
strategic assets by newly raised Aerospace Force.
However, Washington and NATO have said in spite of
increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow, their missile defence
plans will not be altered.
Noting that the offensive and defensive weapons were
interlinked, Medvedev has also cautioned Washington that
Moscow will walkout of the new START nuclear arms control
treaty signed by Medvedev and Obama in Prague in April 2010,
heralding a `reset` between the two former Cold War foes.