Page last updated at 22:15 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Moldova Trans-Dniester region in Russia missile offer

By Nick Thorpe
Central Europe correspondent, BBC News

Map of the Trans-Dniester region

Moldova's breakaway region of Trans-Dniester has reacted to US plans for a missile defence shield by offering to host new Russian missiles.

The US wants to base elements of its missile defence shield in neighbouring Romania and Bulgaria - much to Russia's concern.

Trans-Dniester leader Igor Smirnov said Russia had not yet asked it to be a host but any request would be approved.

Trans-Dniester is already home to Russian troops and an arms dump.

The Trans-Dniester region declared independence from Moldova in 1991.

Sharp criticism

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already asked for an explanation from the US about its missile defence plans.

Over the past days details have emerged of the US offer to Romania and Bulgaria: sea-based interceptor missiles on US ships in the Black Sea from as early as next year, and land-based missiles from 2015.

The plans have drawn sharp criticism from Moscow, where officials described an earlier project to base radar and missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland as a threat to Russia.

In a separate development, the Moldovan prime minister and Romanian interior minister symbolically removed the barbed wire fence which has stood since Soviet times, and reopened a border crossing across the river Prut between the two countries.

The new Moldovan government, elected last summer, has sought closer ties with Romania and the European Union and has given up the pro-Moscow orientation of its predecessor.

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