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Europe, International Relations, NATO, Russia

Missile Defense System Puzzle in the Shadow of Russian-USA-NATO Relationship


In 1999 and 2001, the National Intelligence Council stated that Iran could develop an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015. In recent years, U.S. government agencies have affirmed those estimates, arguing that “Iran could have long-range missiles capable of reaching to U.S. and Europe before 2015” and proposed U.S. missile defense assets in Europe to defend the U.S. and Europe against long-range ballistic missile threats emanating from the Middle East.”

“It is impossible to forget about the existence of the enormous cold war nuclear stockpiles. As long as they exist, each side has no enemy but the other side’s nuclear arsenal. This is why missile defense, as a possible way of avoiding a retaliatory attack, will remain on the agenda” (Fyodor Lukyanov).

In this regard, Russia and NATO remain at loggerheads over a US-led project to build a missile shield in Europe. NATO members agreed to create a missile shield over Europe to protect it against ballistic missiles launched by so-called “rogue states”, such as Iran and N. Korea, at the summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2010, but differences in approaches toward the project led to a deadlock in negotiations. The alliance says the shield will come into full operation by around 2020. However, Russia has demanded legally-binding, written guarantees that the project would not undermine Russian national security, harm the strategic nuclear parity with U.S. and may target its nuclear forces. Kremlin says that deployment of U.S. interceptor missiles and radars in Europe is a potential threat to the Russian nuclear arsenal, while Washington is trying to convince Moscow that the European missile shield poses is not threat to Russia.

In this context, lately numerous of statement was given concerning missile defense shield which recently altered foreign policy course of Russia, US and NATO:

Russia does not even rule out delivering preemptive strikes against missile defense objects in Poland and Romania and shooting down U.S. satellites utilized as part of the shield, but only as a last resort. “The placement of new strike weapons in the south and northwest of Russia against [NATO] missile defense components, including the deployment of “Iskander” missile systems in Kaliningrad region is one possible way of incapacitating the European missile defense infrastructure,” Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov said.

“By 2018-2020 the continent should have enough anti-missile defense to be able to intercept part of Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Creation of the Euro-missile defense, which is taking place without Russia’s agreement and will lead to a degradation of Russia’s nuclear deterrent, could lead to a disbalance in strategic stability at the regional and global levels.” Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said at an international conference on Euro-missile defense in Moscow on May 3-4.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that “We are not against NATO’s desire to deploy its missile defense system, we are opposed NATO to the radius of their anti-missile systems which can cover the European part of Russia. We will never agree on such terms, therefore we request for clear legally guarantees of non-direction of the systems against our interests. Russia will build a reliable aerospace defense system to effectively counter NATO missile threats. Russia would cooperate with NATO only on a joint European missile defense network project, but would not be part of a U.S. missile defense in Europe.”

Russia’s military and political leadership has already warned its western partners several times that if talks fail, Russia may take a series of measures including deployment of Iskander short-range nuclear-capable tactical ballistic missiles in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad that will be capable of effectively engaging elements of the U.S. missile defense system in Poland. Russia has strongly criticized NATO’s reluctance to provide written, legally binding guarantees that its European missile shield will not be directed against Moscow.

Alexander Vershbow, NATO’s deputy secretary-general and a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, told in the conference: “In fact, we have no desire to disturb global strategic stability with the planned missile defense system. NATO missile defense will be capable of intercepting only a small number of relatively unsophisticated ballistic missiles. It does not have the capability to neutralize Russian deterrence.”

“We’ve also made it clear that we would like to cooperate on missile defense against mutual threats with Russia,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. “There will not be a NATO-Russia Council meeting at Chicago,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed to journalists on Monday. “The U.S. State Department’s top arms control official has said the Obama administration will not give Russia any legally binding guarantees that U.S. missile defenses in Europe will not impact Russia’s strategic deterrent, because the U.S.-led NATO project does not involve Russia in any way” Foreign Policy magazine reported. Current U.S. President Barack Obama has changed the missile shield strategy and decided to postpone the project but has not given it up, which has also caused Russian criticism.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that “plans to put offensive weapon systems on Russia’s borders to counter a planned European missile shield were not electoral rhetoric but, a forced measure. The statement has no tactical or pre-election implications. Russia would take a set of measures within the next eight or ten years to reduce a threat to its security, and the first step has already been made, namely launch of a new anti-missile radar station in the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, which capable of monitoring missile launches from the North Atlantic, as well as the U.S.-backed future European missile shield and could be used for joint defense as well. And we have both material and military bases for it. Russia would be withdrawn from the START treaty as well. We can no longer be satisfied with a common statement that the missile defense system created is not directed against Russia. Those are empty words, which unfortunately do not guarantee the protection of our interests. But anyway, oral statements are not enough.”

“Russia wanted specific guarantees on paper, which should include the system’s configuration, the location of the units, the speed of the interceptors and other aspects. Russia still wants legal guarantees it is not targeted by a U.S.-led missile shield, despite an invitation to observe interceptor test launches in Europe. European missile defense shield is currently being created according to the parameters that Washington has defined and could create a threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. The deployment of strategic missile defense systems in various parts of the world will alter the international security configuration. Statements concerning build-up of global missile defense capabilities will not undermine the foundations of strategic stability, are not enough. The issue is far too serious.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said “Russian president’s plans to deploy offensive weapon systems on European borders was very disappointing. We expect that Russia and NATO to agree on missile defense at the alliance’s summit in Chicago due on May 20-21, 2012. I have to say that it would be a complete waste of money to deploy offensive weapons against an artificial enemy – an enemy that doesn’t exist in the real world.” NATO says it needs the shield, which will be eventually deployed in the Mediterranean, Poland, Romania and Turkey, to counter the potential threat of missile attacks from the Middle East and it was ready to offer Moscow written assurances that the European missile shield is not directed against Russia but has refused so far to provide the legally binding commitments demanded by Moscow.

The U.S. is already deploying its missile defense system in Europe without waiting for an agreement with Russia. Romania announced on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with the U.S. to deploy a U.S. missile interceptor system at a disused Soviet airbase on its territory. Moscow then issued an urgent request for legal guarantees from the U.S. Some countries in the alliance say they cannot entrust Russia with their security because it is not part of the [NATO] collective defense system.

“This will mean that the U.S. and NATO intend to develop the ABM [anti-ballistic missile] system without taking Russia’s concerns into consideration. Now our countries are faced with a dilemma: We will either jointly react to new missile challenges and threats or will be obligated to take up military-technical measures” Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said. Russian officials Thursday showed a computerized version of imaginary strikes by Russian nuclear missiles on imaginary targets on the U.S. East Coast. Deputy Chief of Staff Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov showed to audience visual images of simulated missile launches from Russia if the Americans deploy their weapons that work together with components of the national missile defense system in Alaska’s Fort Greely and the Californian base Vandenberg.

Despite the fact that relations between NATO and Moscow have grown sour lately over the European missile shield plans, the sides have cooperated closely in the war in Afghanistan and in a number of anti-drug and anti-piracy missions. Moscow is preparing to allow NATO to use an airport in Ulyanovsk, to transit soldiers and military cargo to and from Afghanistan as an alternative to transit routes through Pakistan where NATO convoys have frequently come under militant attacks. Since, Washington’s relations with Pakistan have been strained and that Kyrgyzstan has signaled that it will not extend the U.S. lease of its Manas air base, Russia’s cooperation has become increasingly important for the U.S. and its NATO allies. A. Arbatov warned, any attempt by Russia to use the Ulyanovsk hub as a tool to blackmail the U.S. over its missile shield plans could have unpleasant implications for both countries.

Turkey and U.S. signed a memorandum on the deployment of a U.S. radar on Turkish territory as part of a “missile shield” to protect NATO allies from potential ballistic missile threats. The X-band AN/TPY-2 radar designed to intercept medium-range missiles at very high altitudes, will be deployed at a military base in the eastern province of Malatya. Ankara and Washington say the radar will help provide early warning of missile threats coming from outside Europe. The radar will be operated from a NATO control center in Germany, but the allies will share data with Turkey. Iran has criticized Turkey for its decision to host NATO missile defense elements on its soil. Turkey’s decision is a “strategic mistake” that would send a clear message both to Iran and Russia, “but more to Iran,” he said.

The radar will not be able to work against Russia. First of all, even theoretically, its range reaches only as far as Novorossiysk; secondly, the Caucasus Range and the East Pontic Mountains would interfere with the radar’s ability to track the situation above Russia. Furthermore, it makes absolutely no sense to track anything related to the launches of Russian strategic missiles, since they are deployed in northwestern and central Russia, and in Siberia; their operational trajectories are northbound, and go above Arctic regions and Greenland. However, this radar could be a big strain on two nations in the region: Iran and Syria. So far, Syria does not possess missiles that could reach Europe, and it is unlikely to obtain them any time soon. Iran, however, is on the cusp of creating these systems. Its main missile bases that are known to international experts are stationed in western and northwestern Iran, outside Khorramabad and Tabriz. Missiles launched from here could potentially fall under the observation of the new American radar station.

Turkey is among the five countries that agreed to host parts of a U.S.-European missile defense shield. The others are Portugal, Poland, Romania and Spain. Ankara and Washington have said the radar will help provide early warning of missile threats coming from outside Europe.

To sum up, it does not seem that, parties will come to common agreement on missile defense shield at Chicago Summit. All the progress that will be achieved should be in favor of NATO and U.S., but not Russia. Progress in future course of negotiations depends on new foreign policy course of Russian Federation after Putin’s inauguration and elections in U.S. However, it is not expected compromise from Russia on this issue. Russia plays very emotional and aggressive role. Therefore, latest Radar Stations discussion with Azerbaijan keeps on agenda of Russian Foreign Policy. As NATO urge that, they do not discuss Iranian Nuclear Program in their agenda, missile defense system program make clear everything. Implementation of this program will enable NATO/U.S. to tackle with Iranian ballistic missiles in case of any war in the region. Potential membership of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO should be caused with potential placement of missile defense shields in the territories of those countries and it means direct military expansion of NATO toward Russian borders. In this context, Russia warned about the adoption of any decision or program on integration of national anti-missile shield to common system by Member States of NATO. Let see!

You can find the original article at:  http://www.strategicoutlook.org/world-politics/news-missile-defense-system-puzzle-in-the-shadow-of-russian-usa-nato-relationship.html

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