Russia lawmaker warns Poland, Czechs on U.S. shield

MOSCOW  – Poland and the Czech Republic could become targets for the Russian military if they agree to host elements of a U.S. missile defense system, Russian news agencies quoted a senior Russian lawmaker as saying on Monday.

The comments by Konstantin Kosachyov, a Kremlin ally who heads the international affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, follow progress in discussions between Poland and United States on the proposed shield.

“Connections between any other third countries, in this case, Poland and the Czech Republic, make these countries hostages and participants in the situation,” Kosachyov was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.

“They will be making a choice, a strategic choice, that will affect the security of these countries, because the relevant U.S. systems will become a subject of control and, possibly, in the worst case, a target for Russian defense systems,” Kosachyov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Moscow disputes U.S. statements that the missiles are intended to protect against future threats from rogue states such as Iran. It says the shield is a threat to Russian security.

Russia’s objections are expected to top the agenda when Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk visits Moscow on February 8.

The U.S. wants to locate 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar installation in Czech Republic under the $3.5 billion plan.

On February 1, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States supports modernizing Poland’s air defenses, a key Polish demand for hosting part of the planned system.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered Washington access to Russian data on missile launches if the United States drops its missile shield plan. The Pentagon regards the radar offer as a supplement to its shield, not a substitute.

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