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Beijing and Moscow to cooperate on minimizing US missile defense

The Russian military has said it will cooperate with Beijing on minimizing a threat posed by US missile defense. Moscow argues the missile shield will upset the nuclear balance.

At a security summit in Beijing, Russian and Chinese military leaders said on Tuesday that they were considering joint countermeasures to the US' missile defense shield. Moscow and Beijing have routinely expressed concerns that the Pentagon has been using the term "defense" as a ruse.

"The missile defense system considerably shifts the balance of offensive weapons, allowing the planning of a more efficient pre-emptive strike," said Lt. General Viktro Poznikhir.

"Russian military experts believe that the US hopes to gain the capability to strike any region of the world, including Russia and China, with nuclear-tipped missiles with impunity," he added.

Gladiatorial echoes

In his talk, Poznikhir employed the analogy of Roman gladiators to illustrate how Russia saw Washington's plan to create a series of missile defense bases throughout eastern Europe and in South Korea. He argued that if the US launched a first strike, it could use the shield to immediately put an end to any retaliation.

"If one of the gladiators takes up a shield, it will give him a marked advantage and make him think that he would be able to win, particularly if he strikes first," Poznikhir said. "What would another gladiator do? Naturally, he also would pick up a shield and also a longer and stronger sword. This is what happening now as a result of the US missile deployment."

The general also mentioned that the two countries had already begun discussions on how to counter the US program. However he did not offer further details but accused the countries that host US missile bases of making their citizens "hostages of the US unpredictable action."

Südkoea US-Patriot Raketen (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Osan US Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea

Upending the balance of power

In comments carried by Russia Today, Major General Cai Jun echoed Poznikhir's statements, saying that Washington's actions were promoting instability across eastern Europe and Asia.

"The US did not provide legally-binding guarantees that the missile defense system they are deploying in Europe would not be aimed against Russia. But at the same time it poses a real and direct threat to Russian security,” he said.

"China and Russia have similar positions about strategic antiballistic missile systems and oppose attempts by any nation or group of nations to create such systems unilaterally at the expense of strategic international security,” Cai Jun added.

Both men dismissed claims by the US that the missile shield was largely meant to protect itself and its allies from the threat of attacks by Iran or North Korea.

es/jm (AP, AFP)

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