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Russian Anger On Ballistic Missile Defense

Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Yury Baluyevsky. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Nikolai Khorunzhy
UPI Outside View Commentator
Moscow (UPI) Oct 18, 2006
On October 6, 1986 K-219, a Soviet strategic nuclear-powered missile submarine (NATO's name "Yankee II) sank in the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean. One of the versions was a collision with USS Augusta. Despite the start of perestroika and the new mentality, the collision became possible because the Soviet Union moved its submarine patrol area closer to U.S. territory in response to the deployment in Europe of American medium-range missiles, which were capable of reaching Soviet territory in 15 to 20 minutes.

It is essential to recall the Cold War times. Few remember now the massive European protests against the deployment of American Pershings. But it was clear that missiles attract missiles, and the Soviet Union was bound to target its missiles at every new site that threatened its security.

Today, a new missile crisis is unfolding before our eyes.

Head of the U.S. Missile Defense Systems Lt. Gen. Henry Obering said the White House deems it necessary to provide missile defense not only for U.S. territory, but also for overseas American troops and its allies.

At present, the Pentagon has 10 anti-missiles deployed in two sites -- in Alaska and California. Officially, the missiles have been positioned there to thwart a threat of Iran's missile strike against Europe and the United States. In addition, the United States intends to deploy 10 long-range interceptor missiles in Eastern Europe, close to the Polish-Belarusian border, to protect against Iran.

But this excuse is beneath criticism. The Iranian Shahab-3 missiles, with a range of 2,175 miles, can only reach Europe, not the United States. The shortest flight path from Iran to Europe lies through the Caucasus, the Black Sea, and Ukraine, rather than Russia.

Washington claims that its ABM defense, which is being built at overseas bases, is not targeted against Russia. But Russia has not received any guarantees to this effect so far. The Russian Foreign Ministry declared that until this happens, Russia cannot ignore a potential threat to its security.

When Supreme Allied Commander in Europe American Gen. James Jones visited Moscow last April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concern over the appearance of NATO's similar military installations in Bulgaria and Romania.

In an article published the other day by the Polish newspaper Dziennik, Yury Baluyevsky, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, explained: "We are convinced that implementation of the U.S. plans may lead to the deployment of (missile) systems close to the Russian borders. These systems are capable of upsetting the existing balance between the Russian and American strategic delivery vehicles."

Washington claims that these systems are not aimed against Russia or China, but these words are glaringly at variance with deeds.

Quoting Baluyevsky, ITAR-TASS wrote: "If U.S. missile defense plans are carried out to this or other extent, the existing correlation between the U.S. and Russian strategic offensive potentials will change, and Russia may have to adjust its position on reducing these weapons."

Nikolai Khorunzhy is a political commentator for the RIA Novosti news agency. This article is reprinted by permission 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.

Source: United Press International

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BMD Rumblings from Russia
Washington (UPI) Oct 19, 2006
As America's European allies become more enthusiastic about ballistic missile defense, a Russian general has issued an ominous warning. In a May 25 column in BMD Focus, we warned that the Russian reaction to the embrace of ballistic missile defense by NATO member nations in Europe, especially former Soviet satellites during the Cold War, "could raise tensions in Europe to a level they have not reached since the last great showdown in the Cold War a quarter of a century ago."

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