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Russian military calls U.S. missile defense a threat

MOSCOW — Russia's top military officer says U.S. missile defense plans in Europe are aimed at Russia and should be part of talks on a new arms control treaty.

General Staff chief Gen. Nikolai Makarov said in televised remarks Tuesday that Russia has a "very negative assessment" of the plan.

Romania last week approved a proposal to place anti-ballistic missile interceptors in the country as part of a revamped American missile shield. The U.S. also plans to deploy a battery of Patriot missiles in Poland.

The U.S. says the shield is not directed at Russia.

Makarov's statement marks the strongest Russian criticism yet of the plan.

Makarov says the plan must be part of U.S.-Russian talks on a successor to the START arms treaty that expired on Dec. 5.