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Russia exasperated with US over missile defense

A top Russian defense official today signaled growing frustration with the US, which has refused to provide legal guarantees that a planned missile-defense shield is not directed at Moscow.

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting in the Communication Center of the Russian government in Moscow, Wednesday.

Alexei Nikolsky/Government Press Service/RIA-Novosti/AP

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A top Russian defense official warned Thursday that NATO's plans to install an anti-missile shield in Europe are a "litmus test" for future relations between Moscow and the West.

The tough statement by deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov comes ahead of a planned summit between Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin and President Obama, and signals Moscow's growing exasperation with the US position after a flurry of optimism earlier this month.

Russian sources say it appears to be a long and empty dialogue that will ultimately leave Russia out in the cold as NATO deploys its missile shield, which is ostensibly meant to protect against Iranian missiles.

"This is a very sensitive subject for us," says Andrei Klimov, deputy chair of the State Duma's international affairs committee. "It looks like the Americans are just stringing us along. If this anti-missile system is really not directed against Russia, why not sign a legal document declaring that? Why not to give Russia access to real monitoring of the system?"

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