Hagel video chats Russia amid missile moves

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel held his first video teleconference with the Russian defense minister on Monday as Russia was moving long-range missiles to the Russian-European border.

In a readout of the video call between Hagel and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Pentagon said that Hagel stressed U.S. and NATO missile defense efforts in Europe “pose no threat to Russia.”

Russia has long been angry at the United States for its missile defense plans in Europe, and there were reports Monday that Moscow has positioned more than a dozen long-range missiles along the border near Poland, Lithuania and other Baltic nations.

Poland and Romania are the first of several sites the White House is eying for a series of sea and land-based ballistic missile interceptors in Eastern Europe.

In the days after the interim deal between Iran and six world powers — including Russia and the U.S. — Russian officials argued that U.S. missile defense is no longer needed in Europe, because it is primarily designed to guard against an Iranian missile attack.

Hagel disagreed with that assessment in Monday’s call.

“Secretary Hagel noted that the P5+1 Joint Plan of Action does not eliminate the need for U.S. and European allies to continue implementing missile defense plans in Europe,” the readout said.

The Pentagon said that Hagel and Shoigu had previously agreed to hold the teleconference on the margins of the U.S.-Russia 2+2 meeting held in August.

The two defense chiefs also discussed Syria and the removal of chemical weapons, cybersecurity and countering improvised explosive devices, according to the readout.