Kremlin: NATO missile shield threatens Afghanistan cooperation
Nov 28, 2011, 11:52 GMT
Moscow - Russia may stop cooperating with NATO over Afghanistan if the alliance continues with a planned European missile shield, a senior Kremlin official said on Monday.
'If our (NATO) partners do not react to our concerns on missile defence ... we will have to link them with other matters,' said Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, at a strategic planning session in the country's national legislature, the Duma.
'This could include Afghanistan,' Rogozin said.
Rogozin's remarks, reported by the Interfax news agency, came as the Kremlin stepped up a national media campaign to depict a missile defence system planned for the NATO region as dangerous to Russian interests.
State-controlled media have recently given heavy play to the NATO initiative, saying it would directly threaten Russia's nuclear deterrent force, and that Moscow would respond by deploying new missiles of its own, aimed at European targets.
President Dmitry Medvedev said that Moscow could only negotiate with Washington 'from a position of strength,' in remarks aired by the national Rossiya television channel,
Rogozin's comments marked the first time a senior Kremlin official had publicly questioned Russian cooperation with NATO on Afghanistan, as a possible retaliatory measure for the planned NATO missile shield.
NATO officials have said the defence system is intended to protect Europe from a possible strike from the Middle East, and is not aimed at Russia.
Russia assists NATO in the Afghanistan war with intelligence and by allowing alliance supplies to travel to the region through Russian territory and airspace.
The ground supply route into Afghanistan from Russia via the Central Asian states Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is especially important for NATO, as it has historically been secure from Taliban attacks. NATO lorries travelling via Pakistan are regularly ambushed by insurgents.
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