Moldova's rebel region of Transdniestria said on Monday it was ready to host Russian tactical missiles if the Kremlin were to ask, escalating growing tensions about defence between Moscow and Washington.
NATO and European Union member Romania, which borders Moldova, this month approved a U.S. plan to deploy interceptor missiles.
It prompted calls for clarification from Russia's foreign ministry, which said it was concerned.
Interfax news agency quoted regional leader Igor Smirnov as saying on Monday: "We are not against it ... As far as Iskander (missile) is concerned, we have long said we are ready."
Smirnov made clear that the offer was linked to Washington's plans to deploy elements of its own anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, reported Interfax.
A strip of land on Moldova's eastern border, Transdniestria broke away from it in 1990. It is populated mostly by Russian speakers who have been issued Russian passports and the Kremlin stations peace-keeping troops there.
Referring to Romania's plan to deploy U.S. missiles, Smirnov said: "It will not be a stabilising factor in the situation".
Russia initially welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's scrapping of Bush-era plans for a missile defence system in central Europe.
But Moscow has since said the system now being proposed leaves many unanswered questions.
Moscow earlier threatened to deploy tactical Iskander missiles near the border with Poland -- in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad -- in response to U.S. plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech republic.
ReutersLast Mod: 15 Şubat 2010, 15:43