- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2008

MINSK, Belarus | Russia could base bombers and missiles in neighboring Belarus in response to U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe, Moscow’s ambassador to Minsk said Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported.

“We could be talking about the possible basing of Iskander missiles, the possible basing of strategic bombers in Belarus, Kaliningrad and so on,” Ambassador Alexander Surikov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

“When Poland signs the agreement with the American side about hosting elements of the missile defense system, then we can discuss some additional aspects of military-technical cooperation with Belarus,” Mr. Surikov said.

“We will counter the deployment of [a] missile defense system in Poland. We have to judge the situation. We will counter the way we have to. But this excludes the return of nuclear weapons to Belarus,” he added.

Russia has vowed a firm response to U.S. plans to base interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of a defense system that Washington says is aimed at countering a missile threat from Iran.

Russian officials and military top brass say the U.S. missile system is based too close to its borders and is in fact aimed at undermining Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

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