Moscow demands answers on US-Romania "missile shield" deal
Russia's foreign ministry voiced its "concern" Feb. 5 at Romania's plans to host part of a new US "missile shield" system for Europe. "This is a serious matter," the ministry said in a statement, adding that Moscow will seek explanations from Washington and Europe. The statement came the day after Romania's President Traian Basescu announced his country has agreed to host medium-range ballistic missile interceptors as part of the US system, expected to be operational by 2015. The US State Department confirmed his announcement, saying the planned missile shield is intended to protect against the "emergent threat" from Iran.
In September, President Barack Obama's administration formally abandoned the Bush administration's missile shield plan, which called for stationing missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. The new plan is supposedly more "flexible" and focuses on protecting against short- and medium-range missiles rather than long-range ones. But unlike the previous plan, it calls for stationing missiles in both Poland, the Czech Republic—and now Romania. Vice President Joseph Biden visited all three countries in October to promote the new missile shield, which is to be operational by 2015. Warsaw and Prague have already expressed their support for the new plan. (AFP, RIA-Novosti, Feb. 5)