A U.S.-supplied long-range radar unit has been activated in Turkey's Kurecik province in accordance with NATO plans to establish a ballistic missile shield for Europe, CNN reported on Monday (see GSN, Jan. 6).
The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that both U.S. and Turkish troops were operating the radar system.
The United States has also struck deals with Poland, Romania and Spain to host U.S. missile interceptors as part of the planned NATO antimissile system. Washington and Brussels insist the shield is intended to counter a potential ballistic missile attack from Iran. Russia, however, suspects the Western military alliance of plotting to undermine its long-range nuclear missiles.
Russia and NATO have for more than a year engaged in talks aimed at reaching a deal on missile defense cooperation (see GSN, Jan. 13). Moscow is demanding a binding guarantee that U.S. interceptors stationed in Europe would never target Russian strategic weapons but has been repeatedly been rebuffed on the matter (CNN, Jan. 16).
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Friday said there is still time to reach a compromise with the Western military bloc on missile defense, Interfax reported.
"We will do everything possible to use up all the resources and chances of reaching an agreement," said Moscow's former ambassador to NATO.
Rogozin, who remains the Kremlin's point man for antimissile talks with the alliance, said he would continue to "work on this matter by overseeing negotiations between Russia and the United States and between Russia and NATO."
NATO leaders have expressed hope that an agreement could be reached in time for a May summit in Chicago. The Kremlin --among other threats -- has said it could deploy short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad territory, which borders multiple NATO states, if a deal on missile defense is not reached.
Rogozin pledged to "make efforts to enable the Russian Federation to give an appropriate technical response if the [NATO] missile defense targets our supreme national interests."
Moscow possess "all it needs to completely nullify the effect of any act that represents an attempt to 'undress' (its) strategic potential," the deputy prime minister said.
He called for any missile cooperation deal with the alliance to include the integration of Russia's "unique geographical, economic scientific and technological resources" (Interfax, Jan. 13).