Russia said on Thursday it was asking Bulgaria to provide an explanation about its plans to deploy U.S. air defence missiles on its soil.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov asked Bulgaria's ambassador to Russia, Plamen Grozdanov, to explain the "goals and essence" of its talks with the United States on hosting elements of its air defence system, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Moscow has repeatedly demanded clarification from Washington as U.S. missile defence plans in Europe take shape, voicing surprise at Romania's February offer to host interceptor missiles.
News that Bulgaria had also expressed a willingness to play a role further raised alarms.
Alexander Vershbow, U.S. assistant defence secretary for international security affairs, told Reuters in an interview earlier on Thursday that Washington had not asked Bulgaria to host any missile shield elements so far.
He added Moscow knew last year Romania was a possible site. U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out a revised European missile defence strategy in September that focuses more on Iranian short- and medium-range missiles. U.S. officials have expressed hopes that Russia might eventually play a role in the strategy.
Russia's most powerful politician, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and other officials have questioned the strategy and called it an obstacle to a successor to the 1991 START nuclear arms reduction pact, under negotiation for months.
ReutersLast Mod: 18 Şubat 2010, 23:32