MOSCOW, Russia - August 21, 2008 - The West’s deteriorating relations with Moscow were plunged into deep freeze yesterday when the United States and Poland sealed a deal that will place a key part of Washington’s “Son of Star Wars” anti-missile system on Polish soil. Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, flew to Poland from the NATO meeting that condemned Russia’s military presence in Georgia, to sign the agreement with Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish Foreign Minister.
It will lead to the installation of ten interceptors in silos capable of destroying hostile ballistic missiles.
Russia reacted with fury, saying that the missile shield was aimed at weakening its defenses. “Russia in this case will have to react, and not only through diplomatic protests,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Norway’s Defense Ministry said that it had been informed by the Kremlin that Russia was cutting all military ties with NATO.
Moscow has claimed that the proposed sitting of American interceptors close to its borders is aimed at undermining Russia’s nuclear weapons arsenal and that the timing of the agreement with Warsaw, so soon after the conflict in Georgia, provided the final proof.
The crisis in Georgia threatened to spiral into a fresh confrontation yesterday when its breakaway northwestern region of Abkhazia appealed to Russia to recognize its independence.
With the U.S. and Europe complaining that Russian troops were still not withdrawing from Georgia, the Abkhaz parliament urged President Medvedev of Russia to support its independence and maintain a military presence in the province.