Friday, May 4, 2012

NATO: Russia talk of pre-emptive strike unjustified

BERLIN (Reuters) - A Kremlin threat to launch pre-emptive strikes on a planned NATO missile defense system in Europe is unjustified as the system poses no threat to Russia's security, the head of the Atlantic alliance said on Friday.

NATO has long insisted that the anti-missile shield it is developing is aimed at protecting member states from a possible Iranian attack, but Russia fears the system could undermine the effectiveness of its own nuclear arsenal.

In a stark escalation of rhetoric ahead of Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency next week, Russia's military chief-of-staff said on Thursday that Moscow might be forced to carry out pre-emptive strikes on NATO missile defense installations.

"These statements are unjustified," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Berlin after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Read More