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Russian parliament warns Lithuania against hosting U.S. missile defense sites
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    MOSCOW — Russian lawmakers warned Lithuania against agreeing to place U.S. missile defense sites in the Baltic country, saying Wednesday that such a move could trigger a Russian military buildup in the region.
    Russia could deploy more troops to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad if Lithuania offers its soil for the deployment of U.S. missile interceptors, said a statement approved unanimously by the Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma.
    Lithuania’s Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas was in Washington on Wednesday for talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he did not know if the two were discussing the possibility of placing missile-defense components in the former Soviet country on Russia’s northern border.
    But on Tuesday, the Pentagon had said Lithuania would be a ‘‘good alternative’’ to Poland if negotiations with Warsaw collapse. Poland has demanded increased U.S. military aid in exchange for approving the deal.
    Russia is fiercely against the U.S. plans to deploy components of a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the move would undermine its nuclear deterrent.
    The Duma statement said that placing U.S. interceptors in Lithuania would ‘‘lead to a change of the Russian Federation’s approach to military security in the Baltics, which is currently based on the principle of minimal sufficient military presence.’’
    The lawmakers said using Lithuania in the missile-defense plan ‘‘will lead to an adequate modernization and strengthening of a grouping of Russian forces deployed to the Kaliningrad region.’’
    Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost region, is located on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania.
    The Duma statement also criticized a Lithuanian law passed last month banning the public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols. It said the law insulted the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought the Nazis in the World War II and amounted to an attempt to ‘‘rewrite history.’’
    The Soviet Union annexed independent Lithuania in 1940. Nazi Germany quickly seized the Baltics after invading the Soviet Union in 1941, and the Soviet army drove Nazi troops back in 1944.

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