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Russia: Moscow Regrets U.S. Missile Decision

Prague, 18 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- In a first reaction, Russia today regretted the U.S. decision to deploy a limited missile shield by 2004. U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday ordered the military to prepare within two years a limited system for defending the United States against attack by ballistic missiles.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement today that Moscow regrets the "activization of U.S. efforts" to create a so-called global missile-defense system. The ministry also expressed fears that the move could lead to a new arms race.

The Bush administration said it will ask the U.S. Congress to initially allocate $1.5 billion to fund the project. Critics question whether Bush's goal is feasible and whether the threat of attack is sufficient to justify the expense. Bush said the project is an essential step toward providing defenses against 21st-century threats.