The FINANCIAL — According to RIA Novosti, the current global economic crisis should not force the U.S. administration to abandon its plans to place elements of the U.S. missile shield in Central Europe, the Polish ambassador to Russia said on December 15.
Some media sources have recently speculated that the new U.S. administration under Democrat Barack Obama may reconsider the plans to deploy an early-warning radar in the Czech Republic and a missile-interceptor base in Poland, 200 kilometers (130 miles) from the border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
"Sometimes we hear expectations, concerning the economic crisis, that the new U.S. administration will not implement this project [according to the previous schedule] because it is too expensive and will postpone it until sometime in the future. I believe this approach is wrong," Jerzy Bahr said.
The planned U.S. missile shield, which Washington claims is necessary to counter possible strikes from "rogue" states like Iran, remains one of the most difficult and pressing issues in relations between Russia and the U.S.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened in November to deploy Iskander-M short-range missiles in the country's Kaliningrad exclave, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if the U.S. missile defense system was deployed in Central Europe.
The diplomat said the current economic crisis will eventually end, but terrorism would always remain a serious threat to the national security of any country.
Bahr said the U.S. missile base in Poland is part of definite plans that stretch far beyond the national security interests of Poland or even the European Union.
"These plans are related to the concept of protection of our territories from terrorism, which is our main enemy in today's reality. The decision by the Polish and the Czech authorities has become an adequate response to…the American view on this problem," the ambassador said.
The deal to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland by 2013 was reached in mid-August, and followed the signing of an agreement on July 8 by the U.S. and Czech foreign ministries to place a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic.
Bahr expressed hope that Russia and the West would be able to reach a compromise on the European missile shield despite the current impasse in the dialogue.
"I can assure you that this dialogue is continuing, and not only between the U.S. and Russia, but also between Warsaw and Moscow," the diplomat said.
"We are very satisfied by the fact that Russia is ready for such a dialogue," he added.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that Moscow did not have high expectations of major breakthroughs in missile defense talks with Poland but was willing to continue an assertive dialogue on the issue.
"We appreciate this dialogue [with Poland]…we have no intentions of neglecting it, and we are ready to work as much as necessary to form an adequate perception of our position," Ryabkov said.