MOSCOW, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Russia announced it was reactivating a ballistic missile defense system around Moscow as part of a defense modernization program.
Retired Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, the former head of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, told state-run news agency RIA Novosti that missile silos positioned to defend the Russian capital would be reactivated.
Russia's A-135 missile defense shield was deployed around Moscow in 1995, four years after the Soviet Union collapsed.
"The A-135 system is being thoroughly modernized," the general said. "The missiles and other elements, including detection and tracking components, are being upgraded."
Yesin said two other interceptor missile systems that were deactivated in 2007 would be re-equipped as part of the modernization program.
"There are no plans to build new launch sites as the mothballed ones will be reactivated," he added.
Missile defense has emerged as a source of debate between the U.S. and Russian governments. The Kremlin said U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe would upset the strategic balance of power. Washington, however, says the system is needed to defend U.S. interests against rogue states such as North Korea and Iran.