Russia said to receive U.S. missile shield plan

MOSCOW – Russia received written U.S. proposals on Wednesday which Washington hopes will allay Moscow’s concerns over plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in Europe, Russian news agencies reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates promised Russian counterparts at talks in Moscow on Tuesday to offer a set of confidence-building measures aimed at easing Russia’s opposition to the project.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who reiterated Russia’s criticism of the Missile Shield plan, described the U.S. offer on Tuesday as “pretty serious and interesting” and said Moscow was waiting for it to be presented in writing by Tuesday night.

The U.S. proposals arrived in the Russian Foreign ministry on Wednesday, Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed diplomatic source as saying.

“They are being studied now,” the source was quoted as saying by Interfax.

The confirmation on Wednesday afternoon in Moscow followed the Russian criticism of the U.S. delay earlier in the day.

“In spite of promises yesterday, written proposals from the American side have not yet been received by us,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said on Wednesday morning.

The United States wants to install parts of the shield in former Soviet satellites Poland and the Czech Republic to protect against missiles from what it terms “rogue states” but Russia opposes the plan, saying it will threaten its security.

Russia complained late last year that a previous oral suggestion from the United States on how to allay Moscow’s concerns on the shield had not been followed up in writing.

Gates committed the U.S. side on Tuesday to putting down on paper its suggestions on confidence-building measures before the end of the day.

The two sides failed to agree on the missile defence shield, one of the key issues dividing them, at the talks on Tuesday. Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that “on the matter of principle, the positions of our two sides have not changed”.

(Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Dominic Evans)