Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s top disarmament official, said Sunday that if the US continues to enhance its anti-missile capabilities through NATO’s missile defense shield in Europe, then Moscow may be forced to quit the START nuclear treaty.
“We are concerned that the US is continuing to build up missile defense capability without considering the interests and concerns of Russia,” said Ulyanov.
“Such a policy can undermine strategic stability and lead to a situation where Russia will be forced to exercise [its] right of withdrawal from the [START] treaty,” he added.
The warning came after US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on February 1 the deployment of Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook, equipped with the Aegis shipboard integrated combat weapons system, to Spain.
Washington says the deployment is aimed at curbing possible missile threats from Iran while Russia considers the move as a national security threat.
The USS Donald Cook will become the first of four US ballistic missile defense (BMD)-capable ships based in Europe. The deployment will reportedly cost USD 92 million, with another USD 100 million being spent every year on maintenance of the ships in Spain.
In 2010, Russia and the United States signed the START nuclear treaty, which calls for each country to restrict its nuclear warhead arsenal to 1,550 by 2018.