Moscow on Tuesday said recent actions by Washington and NATO have confirmed its suspicions about a planned European missile shield.
Russia opposes the ballistic missile defense system that the United States is building in Europe with supporting contributions from other member states. The Kremlin has long suspected that the Obama administration's so-called "Phased Adaptive Approach" is aimed at undermining nuclear deterrence on the continent in addition to defending against a possible missile attack from the Middle East.
"We feel the symptoms of the work on various segments of the [anti-ballistic missile] system being intensified," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by Russia Today as saying.
Ryabkov also warned that Western missile defense moves could jeopardize the New START arms control accord.
The U.S. Navy last month began fielding the Standard Missile 3 Block 1B interceptor, which is designed to destroy nonstrategic ballistic missiles. The system is planned for fielding on U.S. warships home-ported in Rota, Spain, and starting in 2015 at an interceptor base currently under construction in Romania. An earlier version of the ship-based interceptor was redeployed to the Black Sea for a short period in April to bolster the confidence of NATO partners amid resurgent tensions with Russia.
Washington maintains that U.S. antimissile systems planned for fielding in Europe do not have the technical capability to threaten Russian nuclear missiles. At the same time, some NATO countries have explicitly linked the missile shield to the goal of deterring Russia. Poland announced in March that as a response to the events in Ukraine, it would accelerate the timetable for acquiring a domestic antimissile capability that would be linked to the NATO system.
And on Capitol Hill, a Senate bill was filed last week that would require the U.S. government to study speeding up by several years the schedule for deploying next-generation Block 2A interceptors in Poland.
The Russian defense ministry's head of international military cooperation, Sergei Koshelev, said NATO had rejected a proposal to hold an "expert dialogue" on missile defense issues.
"This situation ... only make us more certain that the [anti-ballistic missile] system is an anti-Russian capability, which will only grow stronger in time," he said.