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Outside View: ABMs for Europe -- Part 1

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Nikita Petrov
Moscow, April 15, 2008
The results of the Bucharest NATO summit, the NATO-Russia Council meetings, and talks between U.S. President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi have been summed up in what has now become a standard comment: The NATO summit made up for suspending the Membership Action Plan for Ukraine and Georgia with the full support for the deployment of an American missile shield in Europe.

However, a NATO summit communique focuses mainly on the formation of a European missile defense system with the participation of the United States, NATO and Russia rather than on the deployment of the U.S. strategic missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. But this is not at all one and the same thing.

The European theater missile defense system is completely different from the U.S. strategic missile shield. The former is designed against ballistic missiles with medium and shorter ranges of 300 miles to 3,300 miles with speeds of less than 5 kmps, whereas the latter is meant for protection against strategic missiles, with a range of more than 3,300 miles whose warheads develop speeds in excess of 15,120 mph, especially at the final stage.

Russian experts are taking an active part in the development of the European missile defense system in the NATO-Russia Council for a reason. Just like the United States, Russia does not have medium- and shorter-range missiles; they have been scrapped and their production lines destroyed under the Treaty on Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles in 1991.

Moreover, ballistic missiles may be used against southern European states -- Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and even Italy and France. Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, from Syria to Libya, possess missiles similar to the Soviet Scud-Cs and Scud-Ds, which can destroy targets at a distance of 180 to 360 miles, their own missile versions of the same type, or missiles bought from North Korea, with a range of 600 miles or more. Iran also has ballistic missiles.

Who knows what will happen in the future? It is sensible to protect Europe against this threat.

On a NATO-Russia Council committee, Russian military experts and their colleagues from Brussels had several consultations, and even conducted a number of computer command post exercises to this effect.

One of them was held in the Defense Ministry's Fourth Research Institute in Bolshevo near Moscow, which is known to the military world as one of the major think tanks of nuclear retaliation scenarios against potential aggressors. Similar exercises were conducted at an American military base in Germany. Their results were not published, but all participants in the virtual maneuvers were pleased. There are plans to put these computer achievements on a legal and material foundation, and eventually to build a missile defense system in Europe.

Next: The argument over U.S. and Russian ABM hardware

-- (Nikita Petrov is a Russian military analyst who writes on military issues for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

-- (United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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Japan Reassures Russia Over ABM Plans As Czechs Demand Cash For Radar Deal
Moscow (AFP) April 14, 2008
Japan on Monday reassured Moscow that an anti-missile shield planned with the US military was no threat to Russia and was aimed only at North Korea.

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