London, Aug.16 : Russia has threatened to launch a nuclear strike against Poland following that country's landmark deal to create American global anti-missile shields. Russia's Deputy Chief of Army Staff, General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, warned that any new US assets in Europe could come under Russian nuclear attack with his forces targeting "the allies of countries having nuclear weapons".
Russia's Interfax news agency quoted him as saying: "By hosting these, Poland is making itself a target. This is 100 per cent certain. It becomes a target for attack. Such targets are destroyed as a first priority."
Russia's nuclear rhetoric marks an intense new phase in the war of words over Georgia. The Caucasian conflict has spiralled into a Cold War style confrontation between Moscow and Washington in less than a week, reports The Telegraph.
The stand off between the two was underlined by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who dismissed Washington's claims that the silo is a deterrent against 'rogue states' like Iran as "a fairy tale".
He told reporters at the Black Sea resort of Sochi: "The deployment of new missile defence facilities in Europe is aimed against the Russian Federation."
President George W. Bush in a brief but pointed statement earlier in the day said: "The Cold War is over... Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."
Mr Bush, who is demanding an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia now that that a ceasefire deal has been signed, added: "Only Russia can decide whether it will now put itself back on the path of responsible nations or continue to pursue a policy that promises only confrontation and isolation."
But there was no word from either British Prime Minister Gordon Brown or Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron will today seize the initiative by travelling to Georgia, where he is expected to warn Russia to respect its neighbour's territorial integrity.
Poland and the United States reached the agreement, after 18 months of negotiation, on siting 10 interceptor missiles capable of destroying incoming long-range ballistic missiles.
Washington says the system, which would be installed by 2012, is designed to protect the US and its allies from "rogue states" such as Iran. The threat of nuclear reprisals were motivated by Moscow's fears the missile shield makes Russia a target of the United States.