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Sticking An Iskander Missile Into The ABM Shield Part One

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Ilya Kramnik
Moscow (UPI) Nov 19, 2008
Russia will not look on indifferently while the United States deploys the third positioning region of its anti-ballistic missile shield in Eastern Europe.

This was clear before and is clear now, after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described ways in which Russia will respond to the challenge in his state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 5.

If countermeasures are necessary, Russia will deploy the Iskander theater missile system in its Kaliningrad oblast, or region. In addition, according to the Russian president, it also plans to use electronic countermeasures against the missile defense shield.

Medvedev's statement is easy to explain: Deployment of an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic is a direct threat to Russia's nuclear potential. The 10 American Ground-based Mid-course Interceptor missiles, planned for Poland, or even 50 such missiles, cannot, of course, parry a full-scale strike by the Russian Strategic Missile Forces and missile-carrying submarines.

However, the strategic importance of these interceptor missiles would increase were the United States to deliver a first nuclear strike against Russia.

In this scenario, interceptor missiles would have to take on the limited number of missiles surviving the first strike, which would allow the United States to hope for success and, for the first time since the 1950s, for a victory in a nuclear war.

Short-range, solid fuel Iskander theater missile systems long have been viewed as an answer to the possible appearance of elements of a U.S. anti-missile system in Eastern Europe. The range of the Iskander in its basic form is 180 miles. In the opinion of missile specialists, it can easily be extended to 300 miles and more, should Russia decide to tear up the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

In addition, the Iskander can be equipped with more than ballistic missiles. The system also can launch long-range cruise missiles -- R-500s already have been test-fired from the Iskander. Potentially, the range of a cruise-missile system can exceed 1,200 miles, making it possible to hit targets across Western Europe.

Iskander mobile launchers, deployed in Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad region and, potentially, in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, will be capable of delivering a sudden strike, including nuclear warheads, at most of Poland even in standard configuration.

Rapid deployment -- which takes a few minutes -- and the characteristics of the Iskander missile itself increase the probability of engaging targets, especially in view of the fact that the Iskanders' main targets -- the Ground-based Mid-course Interceptor missile launchers -- are fixed.

(Part 2: Why Russian countermeasures will be effective)

(Ilya Kramnik is a military commentator 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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Russia Packs New Missiles For Opening Talks With US Over ABM
Brussels (UPI) Nov 17, 2008
Barely one hour after Barack Obama's victory speech, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy missiles in Russia's westernmost region of Kaliningrad that could attack U.S. military targets in Poland. The targets are limited, small in number and do not yet really exist: They will exist if and when the United States completes the ballistic missile defense system it plans to place in Poland, along with a sophisticated radar component in the Czech Republic.

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