The formal activation of the U.S. Aegis Ashore Missile Defense system in Romania has Russian officials condemning the initiative as a threat to regional security. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Alexander Perrien
MOSCOW, May 12 (UPI) -- Russian officials sounded off against a newly activated U.S. missile defense site in Romania, calling it a threat to Russia and European stability in general.
As the Aegis Ashore missile defense site was formally activated during a ceremony featuring U.S., NATO and Romanian officials at a Cold War-era base, Admiral Vladimir Komyedov, head of the State Duma's defense committee, told the Interfax news agency "they are moving to the firing line."
"This is not just 100," he said. "It's 200, 300, 1,000 percent aimed against us."
The former commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet brushed aside U.S. claims that the missile defense site was intended to deter Iranian threats.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told state news agency Tass Thursday that Moscow was considering military and technical response measures.
Actions like these violate treaties regarding the elimination of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, she said.
"We keep considering destructive activity of the United States and its allies in the sphere of missile defense as a direct threat to international and regional security and stability," Zakharova told Tass. "The strategic situation in Europe is becoming more complicated because of that."
On Tuesday, Commander Sergey Karakayev of Russia's Strategic Missile Force said Russia is developing new intercontinental ballistic missiles in response to continued improvement and deployment of U.S. missile defenses.
"That is why, special attention in the development of new missile complexes is paid to the issue of overcoming the [U.S.] missile shield," Karakayev said.
A 2015 article in NATO Review magazine, which is published by the alliance, counters that Moscow's missile defense opposition is politically motivated.
"When Russia is entering a full-fledged economic crisis that could affect the political allegiances of the Russian population, the Kremlin needs to revive the issue of BMD -- a welcome enemy that contributes to the justification for government survival," according to the article.
The NATO article also argues that Moscow has various types of warheads, missiles and bombers that could technically mitigate such security concerns.
"Given Russia's offensive capabilities, Russia's argument that missile defence (sic) in Europe poses a security threat to Moscow appears exaggerated," the NATO article states.