Belarus: Pact not aimed at missile shield

Feb. 9, 2009 at 11:40 AM
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MINSK, Belarus, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Belarus says its recent agreement with Russia on an integrated regional air defense network is not a response to U.S. plans for a missile defense shield.

Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov told state television Monday that the Feb. 3 pact with Moscow to create an integrated regional air defense network "is not by any means a response to the deployment of a U.S. missile shield" in Poland and the Czech Republic, RIA Novosti reported.

Instead, Martynov said, the pact is "simply a legally binding act, which formalizes the situation that has existed for years, and it does not add anything new to it, either from a military or political standpoint."

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told a security conference in Munich over the weekend that the Obama administration would continue to work on U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe, but softened the stance of former President George Bush by saying Russia would be consulted on the issue.

Russia has said the Belarus air-defense system would be made up of five air force units and 10 anti-aircraft units, the news agency reported.

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