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Outside View: ABMs for Europe -- Part 2

The Tor-MI air defense system.
by Nikita Petrov
Moscow, April 16, 2008
There are some political and economic obstacles on the road to creating an effective ballistic-missile defense system for Europe. NATO members cannot agree what companies should supply the hardware -- radars for reconnaissance, detection and tracking, and for guidance of air-defense systems.

Those in charge of the NATO BMD project cannot decide what air-defense systems they should buy for a European missile defense shield, but they insist they should be American rather than Russian.

Not everyone in NATO agrees with this approach. For instance, the Greek air-defense and missile-defense systems are based on Russian air defense systems -- Buk-M1, Tor-MI and C-300PMU. They appear to be reliable, and Athens does not see why it should pay for hardware that it does not find completely suitable.

But let's return to U.S. missile defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic. They have no direct link to NATO. Moreover, at the final news conference on the recent summit, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said bluntly that the issue of a third U.S. positioning region in Europe is a subject of discussion between Washington and Moscow. The sides have not changed their opinions on this issue after U.S. President Bush visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia.

Moscow has explained more than once why it is so critical of U.S. intentions to station its missile interceptors -- GBIs -- in Poland and high-frequency radar in the Czech Republic. It believes that U.S. GBIs are designed not to protect against Iran, which is not capable of launching missiles against Europe, but to lower the potential of Russia's nuclear deterrent in its European part. Although Putin expressed cautious optimism about the possibility of achieving final agreements on the U.S. missile-defense system, it is not yet clear on what basis they may be reached.

NATO's much-publicized idea of combining the U.S. strategic missile-defense system with the European theater missile defense is rather questionable. Russian experts believe this task is next to impossible. These systems work in different environments -- the former reaches beyond the atmosphere, while the latter deals with missiles flying in the air at relatively low speeds. Intercontinental missiles and their warheads often fly at supersonic speeds and require a different control mechanism.

Moreover, destruction of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles that are only used on strategic missiles, the dummy targets that they release in overcoming the anti-ballistic missile system and other counter-missile-defense measures require expensive military equipment. Combining them in a single system is a big question.

But there is no question that Russia, the United States and NATO can cooperate in creating a European theater missile defense with due respect for the national and economic interests of each party and the intellectual rights of military designers. Moscow is ready for such cooperation.

(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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Outside View: ABMs for Europe -- Part 1
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. (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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