U.S. Missile Defense Plan Draws Kremlin's Ire
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When Western leaders meet this week in Europe, they will debate an emerging issue and an old one. The emerging issue is global warming, and we'll have more on that in a moment. The old issue is an American plan for missile defense, and that issue carries echoes of the Cold War. In fact, Moscow has threatened to aim missiles at Europe for the first time in years.
NPR's Gregory Feifer reports from Moscow.
GREGORY FEIFER: Mr. Bush is visiting a main center of controversy in Washington's diplomatic confrontation with Moscow. The Kremlin is furious about U.S. plans to install parts of its controversial missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, both former Soviet block countries that are now members of the European Union and NATO.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the G8 Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the missile shield will throw off the world's strategic balance.
President VLADIMIR PUTIN (Russia): (Russian spoken)
FEIFER: Of course, we'll have to react to it, he said. It wasn't we who started this new arms race in Europe.
Today, Mr. Bush is expected to praise Democratic reform in former communist countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic and discuss the difficulty of promoting democracy in countries such as Russia. The speech is expected to further anger Moscow ahead of a meeting between Putin and Mr. Bush on the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Germany tomorrow.
Gregory Feifer, NPR News, Moscow.