Russia warns of backlash for U.S., Poland missile deal
Russia lashed out at a deal signed Wednesday to place a U.S. missile defence base in Poland, warning that Moscow may respond with more than just diplomatic measures.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said the U.S. missile shield plans are clearly aimed at weakening Russia and that Moscow's response to any development beyond the current plans will go beyond diplomacy.
The warning came amid severe tension between Russia and the U.S. over the conflict in Georgia.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski signed the agreement in a ceremony in the Polish capital, Warsaw.
The deal is still to be ratified in the Polish parliament, but observers have said the measure should pass easily.
Rice hailed the agreement and praised Poland as a "strong defender of freedom, even in dark times."
"Freedom can be denied for a while, but it cannot be denied forever," Rice told reporters at the ceremony. "In troubled times it is most important to have friends."
'The simple fact is that Poland and all the countries that share borders with Russia want nothing to do with Russia. They are all tired of being bullied by Russia.'
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the agreement came after tough, but friendly negotiations.
"We have achieved our main goals, which means that our country and the United States will be more secure," he said.
Moscow has angrily insisted the presence of U.S. missiles near its border is a threat to the national security of Russia, which held Poland under its yoke for much of the latter half of the 20th century.
In the wake of the deal being announced last week, one of Russia's top military officials, Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, warned that Poland is risking attack, and possibly a nuclear one, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
The U.S. has said the missile defence system, which includes a proposed tracking base in the Czech Republic, is designed to protect against potential missile strikes from so-called "rogue" states such as Iran and North Korea.
The agreement comes amid high tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia's recent military campaign in Georgia.
With files from the Associated Press