Moscow, Nov 14 (UNI) Commander of Russian Armed Forces Missile Troops and Artillery Col Gen Vladimir Zaritsky today said the supply of the Iskander tactical missile system to the former Soviet republic of Belarus would be an asymmetrical response by Russia to the deployment of US missile shield in Europe.
''Why not? Given adequate conditions and an adequate Belarussian position,'' Zaritsky said, while referring to the statement by his Belarussian colleague Mikhail Puzikov on the Belarussian Army Missile Brigade's plans to be armed with the Iskander-E missile system.
He said the Iskander missile system that has begun to enter duty will help Russia compensate for its losses from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that eliminated intermediate and short-range missiles with the US.
''We used to have the Oka system, which had no rival in the world and which was destroyed under the INF Treaty, and the 300 - 500km range was not covered for a long period of time,'' Interfax-AVN agency quoted Zaritsky as saying.
''We have begun to close the breach by putting Iskander system on alert,'' he said.
Zaritsky said under the state programme for armaments the new missile launcher Iskander will be used to re-arm five missile brigades of the Russian armed forces by 2016.
''This year the Iskander launchers went operational at the missile brigade of the North Caucasus military district. One battalion has been fully re-equipped. In 2008, the complex will be provided for another brigade,'' he said.