Russia Says U.S. Approach to Missile Defense ‘Unacceptable’

Russia is alarmed at the U.S. decision to station four ships at a base on Spain’s Atlantic coast as part of an American-led NATO missile defense system, the Foreign Ministry said.

The U.S. approach to developing its capability against missile threats in Europe is “unacceptable,” the ministry said in a statement published on its website today.

Russia “cannot but be alarmed because already in the first phase it’s leading to a substantial buildup of the U.S. anti-missile capability in Europe,” the ministry said.

Spain is the fourth European nation agreeing to participate directly in the Europe-wide missile defense program, intended to protect against attacks from adversaries such as Iran. President Barack Obama pursued U.S. plans for the system in 2009, and the administration has obtained agreements with Poland, Romania and Turkey to host elements of the shield.

The Navy cruisers, equipped with Aegis radar, will operate from the Rota naval base in southwestern Spain, a facility built by the U.S. military in the 1950s and used by both countries, giving ready access to the Mediterranean in potential clashes.

Russia has warned the U.S.-led plan may provoke a new arms race and upset a strategic balance in the region by threatening its nuclear deterrent capability.

President Dmitry Medvedev on May 18 signaled that Russia may quit a nuclear-arms treaty with the U.S. if the two sides can’t reach an agreement on missile defense, provoking a return to Cold War levels of distrust between the countries. Russia wants guarantees that it won’t be targeted by the proposed missile shield.

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