Russia's top military commander says a U.S. proposal to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe remains a threat to arms control discussions.
Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of Russia's General Staff, said the two countries were on the verge of completing a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, however plans to establish anti-missile equipment in Bulgaria and Romania threatened to derail the process.
"Recent events in Eastern Europe have to some extent affected the negotiations," Makarov told reporters in Moscow Tuesday. "But this will be reflected in the new treaty."
The RIA Novosti news agency said Wednesday that the Kremlin was seeking clarification from Washington about a statement from Bulgaria's prime minister last week that talks were under way to base a missile shield in Bulgaria and Romania.
The United States had canceled previous plans for such a deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic amid adamant opposition from Russia. Moscow views missile defense weaponry as a threat to its own nuclear deterrence capabilities.