The U.S.-led anti-missile defense shields in Europe may seriously damage relations between Russia and the United States if the two sides could not reach agreements on the issue, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday.
"We hope problems in the anti-missile defense shield will not escalate and cause our relations move backward to the ice age. We hope to avoid this," Ryabkov told the Voice of Russia radio in an interview.
Ryabkov said that Moscow did not rule out the possibility of withdrawing from the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) it signed with the U.S. in 2010, if no solution would be reached on the issue.
According to Ryabkov, these problems could be solved on the ground proposed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in November, when the president asked again legally-binding guarantees from the U.S. and NATO that the missile defense shield is not targeting Russia
Medvedev also warned in November that Russia might station missile defense systems, including the Iskander, in western and southern sections of the country if there were any additional U.S. missile deployments in Europe.
Moscow has long opposed the deployment of U.S.-led NATO missile defense facilities near its borders and intends to seek legally- binding guarantees from the U.S. and NATO.