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Nato chief dismisses Russian fears

The head of Nato has dismissed Russian warnings of a renewed Cold War-style arms race as "unnecessary" and "out of date".

The alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted that Nato plans for a ballistic missile defence shield for Europe were not a threat to Russian security.

Speaking in London, he insisted that Moscow's strongest guarantee would be to agree to work with Nato on the development of a missile defence system together.

The Russians however remain deeply suspicious of Nato's plans, raising the spectre of a new arms race if the issue cannot be resolved.

But in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute military think tank, Mr Rasmussen bluntly dismissed the Russians' fears as groundless.

"What does not make sense is for Russia to talk about spending billions of roubles on a new defensive system to target the West," he said.

"This type of rhetoric is unnecessary, this type of thinking is out of date, this type of investment is a waste of money.

"We are not a threat to Russia, we will not attack Russia, we will not undermine the security of Russia. The threat to Russia comes from elsewhere."

The original offer to co-operate with the Russians on missile defence was made to President Dmitri Medvedev when he visited last year's Nato summit in Lisbon.

But the Kremlin's concerns were heightened by the recent US decision to deploy the cruiser USS Monterey - equipped with the advanced Aegis anti-missile technology - to the Black Sea, a highly sensitive area for the Russians.

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