20 March, 22:41

US using missile defense system in Europe to make Russia change its Ukraine policies

The United States is again using its missile defense system in Europe as a tool to put pressure on Russia. Earlier, US Vice President Joseph Biden confirmed plans to deploy US missile defense components in Poland by 2018. Denmark said it too could offer its territory for US anti-missile weapons. Unable to force Russia to change its stance on Crimea, the West reverted to "Cold War"-style methods.

Western politicians have so often repeated that there is no reason whatsoever for Russia to worry about US missile defense bases in Europe. Yet, as soon as any differences emerged between Moscow and the West, missile defense immediately moved to the foreground, creeping closer to the Russian border.

"Missile defense is a long-standing problem. The sides – the US, NATO and Russia - have, up to now, failed to come to agreement. Russia demands legally binding guarantees that this system is not directed against its strategic potential. The West refuses to provide such guarantees. Tensions in Ukraine have aggravated the situation around missile defense. Differences between Russia and NATO on missile defense are really very acute. In a situation where the West needs tools to exert pressure on Russia, missile defense is again being pushed to the foreground. It’s kind of political gambling," Ivan Konovalov, Director of the Center for Strategic Conjuncture, told the Voice of Russia.

The so-called Iranian threat served as the formal pretext for unfolding a US anti-missile defense umbrella over Europe. But despite progress at nuclear talks with Iran, the missile defense plans have not been scaled back. In February, the first US warship of the sea-based missile defense segment arrived at Spain’s Rota naval station. It will be joined by three more ships soon. Spain has approved the deployment of 1,400 US servicemen and their families on its territory. Last autumn, construction of the Romanian missile defense segment began. The question with Poland remained open for a long time. But judging from Biden’s latest statement, it has eventually yielded its positions in exchange for Washington’s promises to modernize the Polish army. Some reports say that the US has already deployed 12 F16 fighter jets, several military cargo planes and 300 servicemen on Polish territory.

The Polish segment is intended to provide protection against medium-to-shorter-range missiles. Russia has no such missiles. They were scrapped in 1991 under a USSR-US treaty strategic arms reduction treaty signed in the late 1980s. By now, it’s clear to everybody that the Iranian nuclear program has absolutely nothing to do with the US missile defense bases in Europe. Against whom is it directed then?

"In my opinion, we should look at this system without tying it to strategic or nuclear missiles. The Americans are trying to achieve global strike capabilities involving high-precision non-nuclear weapons of the so-called sixth generation. The case in point is non-contact warfare in which troops won’t come into direct contact with enemy forces. Missile defense systems offer certain advantages in such wars. The European missile defense shield will serve as a control system making it possible to deploy and use non-contact weapons should it be necessary," said Pavel Zolotaryov, Assistant Director of the Institute of the US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Commenting on statements by Western politicians about the possible expansion of anti-Russian sanctions, which, as it turns out, also involve missile defense deployments in Poland, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that "attempts to talk with Moscow in the language of force and threaten Russian citizens lead nowhere". Sanctions are not Russia’s choice, but there will be a symmetrical response, the ministry said.

The Russian Defense Ministry has started deploying an additional network of new-generation over-the-horizon radar systems along the entire length of the Russian border. They are capable of detecting and tracking all the existing and even prospective high-precision weapons as well as aerial targets, including military and civil aircraft and even light sport planes, at a distance of 3,000 km and at an altitude of 100 km.

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