Russia threatens to strike NATO facilities

Russia has threatened to strike US-led NATO missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe if Washington's talks with Moscow about its plan to build a missile shield fail.

According to Fox News, Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has also warned that talks between Moscow and Washington on the topic are "close to a dead end”.

During an international conference attended by senior US and NATO officials, the Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said: "A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens".

US missile defence plans in Europe have been one of the most difficult topics in US-Russian relations for years.

Makarov's statement does not imply an immediate threat, but aims to put extra pressure on Washington to agree to Russia’s demands.

Moscow has rejected Washington’s claim that its missile defence plan is only aimed at dealing with any Iranian missile threat, voicing fears that it will eventually become powerful enough to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

Moscow has proposed to run the missile shield jointly with NATO, but the alliance has rejected that proposal.

The US-NATO missile defence plans plan to use Aegis radars and interceptors on ships and a powerful radar based in Turkey in the first phase, followed by radar and interceptor facilities in Romania and Poland.

NATO's Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow told the conference that the US-led missile shield is "not and will not be directed against Russia" and that Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles are "too fast and too sophisticated" for the planned system to intercept.