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Responding To Bush On BMD

The current situation is reminiscent of the European crisis in the late 1970s, when the Americans declared their intention to deploy cruise missiles and Pershing-2s, ostensibly to offset the Soviet medium-range SS-20s.

Russia To Respond To Threats From US System: Military
Moscow (AFP) May 07 - Russia will respond to any threat from the US missile defence system to be deployed in central Europe, the Russian army's chief of staff said on Monday. "If we see that these installations, which could be set up in Europe, represent a threat, then we will definitely plan actions against them," Yury Baluyevsky told reporters in Moscow, Interfax news agency reported. Russia will take "corresponding measures" if the US missiles and radar are deployed in Poland and Czech Republic as planned, Baluyevsky was quoted as saying, without giving further details. Moscow, which has been increasingly vocal in its public criticism of US policy in recent weeks, says the shield poses a strategic threat by undermining its own missile deterrence capabilities. Washington says the anti-missile shield, which would not be operational before 2012, is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles that could in the future be fired by Iran or other "rogue states." Also Monday, the head of Russia's strategic missile forces, Nikolai Solovtsov, threatened an "adequate response" against the US defence system, Interfax said. "If the US does take the decision... then the Strategic Rocket Forces can take adequate measures to offset the threat that could arise for the Russian Federation," Solovtsov was quoted as saying. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said earlier that the proposed European base would be far too limited in size and capability to affect Russia's massive ballistic missile arsenal.
by Sergei Karaganov
Moscow (RIA Novosti) May 08, 2007
Having proposed deployment of missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, and getting their tentative consent to host them, Washington has been met with not only Russia's tough reaction but also the most unpleasant irritation of its main European allies.

By offering to discuss the Euro-ABM issue with Russia, the U.S. government is trying to cover up its mistake and ease tensions. It wants Moscow to make some response or pretend that we have come to terms. If this fails, Washington may present Moscow as unresponsive to its "peace initiatives." Should Russia play along?

This reminds me of the European crisis in the late 1970s, when the Americans declared their intention to deploy cruise missiles and Pershing-2s, ostensibly to offset the Soviet medium-range SS-20s. (The Soviet leaders made a decision to deploy SS-20s merely because the SS-16 three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile had failed the tests. A two-stage missile code-named SS-20 was a success.)

At that time, many Europeans backed the U.S. plan in order to keep the United States involved in enhancing their security and prevent NATO's decline. They wanted to continue the Cold War because they felt quite comfortable under the American umbrella. The arguments of the current Czech and Polish leaders are reminiscent of the debates of 30 years ago. They are justifying their consent to host ABM components by a desire to have American protection against an increasingly powerful Russia.

In the 1970s, Moscow willingly exploited the new threat. After mutual hysterics of many years, the Soviet Union had to scrap its SS-20s, as well as the more useful shorter-range missiles.

Both sides lost, but the Soviet Union lost more. The missile crisis militarized relations in Europe and dragged out the Cold War for several more years without any sensible reason.

NATO's longstanding European members are not interested in missile defense although they do not want to continue quarreling with the United States, and are scared of Russia's rapidly growing strength. What they certainly do not want is remilitarization of European policy, which would primarily damage their interests by enhancing America's and, to a lesser extent, Russia's positions.

The Polish-based interceptor missiles will not help neutralize "the Iranian threat" because it will not emerge in the foreseeable future. Moreover, if a country wants to hit targets in Europe with warheads, missiles would be the last option for delivering them. There are a dozen simpler ways of doing so. The interests of new NATO members were mentioned earlier, but they can be ignored altogether because these countries are not independent.

The U.S. interests are obvious, and disarming Russia's strategic potential is not likely to be one of these. Washington may hope to achieve this no sooner than in 15 years and on condition that Moscow will be totally idle.

America's primary goal is to provoke a mini-crisis and remilitarization of European policy in the hope of restoring some of its badly damaged position in Europe.

The second aim is to prevent rapprochement between the old Europeans and Russia. A growing alliance based on energy and other interests would make both Europe and Russia much stronger. This is the worst-case scenario for Washington, which is still dominated by old thinking.

The third goal is the most important -- the ABM system does not hold much promise, and its advocates have to prove the contrary. They have to present it as crucial in order to keep it funded.

Russia is interested in preventing a crisis and another Cold War in Europe. It must not get drawn into the arms race, even as a farce. Russia should try to weaken the Western forces that would like to prevent its consolidation and advance. It should also refrain from confrontation with the Muslim world and China, towards which it is being pushed by the resumed talk about a joint ABM. If we are to confront the Islamic bomb, we should do it on our terms.

Russia would gain from getting strategic arms, offensive and defensive alike, back under control from which the Americans have withdrawn them. Militarily, prevention of deployment of ABM elements in Europe could be the least important goal for Russia.

Russia should remember that its agreement to discuss missile defense systems may be presented as our consent to their deployment. When Moscow started discussing the terms for NATO's enlargement in the mid-1990s, the media immediately reported that Russia had swallowed it.

Clearly, missile defense deployment in Europe and the proposal to discuss it together conceal multiple interests of the United States. Russia should follow the rules of this game and talk in the same manner and without any trust.

Sergei Karaganov is dean of the Department of World Economy and World Politics at the Higher School of Economics. This article is reprinted by permission of the RIA Novosti news agency. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Source: RIA Novosti

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Europe Torn Between ABM And CFE
Moscow (RIA Novosti) May 08, 2007
Europe will have to make an important decision: to accept Washington's plans of deploying missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic contrary to Russia's interests, or to demand that the Untied States discuss the issue with Russia first. The decision may be made within days in Brussels, where the NATO-Russia Council is scheduled to meet on May 10. ABM will most likely stand at the top of the agenda, and Russia also intends to raise the issue of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe.

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