Russia has confirmed it will cooperate with the Chinese regime to counter U.S. plans to expand on its missile-defense network around the world.
Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir of the Russian military’s General Staff has accused the U.S. Defense Department of developing the shield as part of a plan to carry out a preemptive nuclear strike.
“We are working together on ways to minimize possible damage to the security of our countries,” he said at a conference in China, according to a transcript that was posted on the Russian Defense Ministry’s website, which apparently was deleted.
“The illusion of invulnerability and impunity under the guise of missile defense will encourage Washington to make unilateral steps in dealing with global and regional issues. This could lead to a decrease in the threshold for using nuclear weapons to preempt enemy actions,” he added, reported Bloomberg.
The move and concern expressed by Poznikhir highlights deepening tensions between the United States and Russia over the war in Syria—as well as lingering fallout left behind after Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.
“Russian military experts believe that the U.S. hopes to gain the capability to strike any region of the world, including Russia and China, with nuclear-tipped missiles with impunity,” Poznikhir said, reported The Associated Press.
The U.S. has said that its missile capabilities are to thwart attacks from rogue states, namely Iran and North Korea.
Poznikhir used an analogy of two gladiators to describe the situation.
“If one of the gladiators takes up a shield, it will give him a marked advantage and make him think that he would be able to win, particularly if he strikes first,” he told AP. “What would another gladiator do? Naturally, he also would pick up a shield and also a longer and stronger sword. This is what happening now as a result of the U.S. missile deployment.”
He said China and Russia held drills months ago to simulate fending off missile strikes, adding that Beijing and Moscow will do the same in 2017.
On Tuesday, Russian and Chinese regime officials went after the United State’s decision to deploy a missile-defense system in South Korea, known as THAAD, after North Korea carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests over the summer.
“Under the pretext of countering the North Korean and Iranian ‘missile threats,’ the system intended primarily for engaging Russian and Chinese missiles is being developed,” Poznikhir said.
In May, the U.S. activated its Aegis land-based missile-defense system in Romania. Another stage of its shield project will be developed in Poland and will be operational in 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, during a U.N. General Assembly meeting, said the U.S. would “do whatever is necessary to defend our own citizens and to honor our security commitments to our allies,” reported Reuters in September.