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MOSCOW, February 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Ground Forces chief Col. Gen. Vladimir Chirkin on Tuesday visited a military academy that trains Iskander missile crews, among other specialists, Defense Ministry spokesman Anton Goncharov said.
Chirkin was briefed on the training and education process at St. Petersburg’s Mikhailov Academy by its chief, Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dyatlov, and visited some hands-on class sessions.
He paid special attention to the training of specialists for Iskander short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that are currently being supplied to missile and artillery units on a large scale, Goncharov said.
This year the academy plans to admit about 800 students.
In 2011, then-President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy Iskander missiles in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region, to counter the threat posed by the US plans to deploy missile defense elements in Europe. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.
Russia proposed a joint missile defense system, an idea that many experts both at home and abroad dismiss as unviable and unrealistic. Then it demanded “legally binding guarantees” that US/NATO missiles would not be aimed at Russia. Since Moscow’s proposal received a lukewarm response in the West, Russia has been warning of unspecified low-cost “asymmetric measures” to counter the future Western missile defense system.
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The clash of Russian and Western interests has given rise to a geopolitical battle. German politicians are trying to leave all doors and windows open for dialogue with Russia. Moscow does acknowledge this, and Germany is probably the only country with which it is ready to discuss European security.