Russia Sees NATO Decisions This Month on Next Steps for Missile Shield

The Aegis-equipped USS Monterey docks at Constanta, Romania, in June 2011. NATO is expected at its summit this month in Chicago to declare an initial capability for protecting Europe against missile attacks (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
The Aegis-equipped USS Monterey docks at Constanta, Romania, in June 2011. NATO is expected at its summit this month in Chicago to declare an initial capability for protecting Europe against missile attacks (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Russia expects NATO will use this month's high-profile meeting in Chicago to decide on next steps for implementation of a ballistic missile defense system in Europe, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, April 30).

Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told the Rossiyskaya Gazeta the Western military alliance was also slated to declare "an initial operational readiness" for defeating missile attacks on Europe.

That interim antimissile capability is comprised of Aegis-equipped U.S. missile destroyers deployed in the Mediterranean and a long-range radar installation in Turkey.

"There are also new decisions on the further missile defense integration within the European shield expected to be made at the summit," according to Antonov (RIA Novosti, May 1).

His comments echoed those made recently by NATO and U.S. officials.

"At Chicago it is our intention to declare an interim capability of NATO missile defense, based on the ability to deploy U.S. assets under NATO command, should conditions warrant," the Xinhua News Agency quoted U.S. National Security Council senior director for European affairs Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall as saying on Monday (Xinhua News Agency/CRIEnglish.com, May 1).

The 28-member alliance used its last summit in Lisbon in 2010 to declare plans to build a European missile defense system as protection against the evolving ballistic missile threat from Iran. A U.S. effort to through 2020 deploy increasingly capable missile interceptors on bases in Poland and Romania and on warships home ported in Spain forms the core of that plan. European members also aim to enhance and connect their own antimissile programs.

NATO heads of state and other top officials are set to convene from May 20-21 in Chicago.

Antonov warned that the third phase of deployment of next-generation U.S. interceptors, which are envisioned to have the ability to destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, could elicit a strong response from Russia, RIA Novosti reported. The Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach" calls for the Standard Missile 3 Block 2A to be fielded around 2018; Moscow sees the interceptors as a threat to its long-range nuclear deterrent (RIA Novosti, May 1).

The deputy minister said his government would lay out its reasoning for opposing U.S. missile defenses in Europe at a two-day international antimissile forum that begins on Thursday in Moscow, Bloomberg reported.

Digital modeling and two briefings by Russia's aerospace defense division will demonstrate to conference participants how the U.S. antimissile technology would undermine Russia's ICBMs, he said. "We've never shown visual information of this kind to anyone."

In excess of 50 nations are sending delegations to the conference, including the United States. NATO officials are also expected to attend.

Antonov said the meeting is aimed at "forcing our colleagues to rethink the consequences" of carrying out their missile defense plans in Europe (Stepan Kravchenko, Bloomberg, May 2).

The Kremlin since late 2010 has conducted talks Washington and Brussels on areas for potential missile defense cooperation. The former Cold War enemies have been unable to reach a compromise, primarily due to Russia's insistence it be given a legally enforceable guarantee on the usage of U.S. interceptors. Moscow has warned it could deploy short-range missiles and air-defense systems in Russian territory bordering Poland and Lithuania if a deal is not reached.

"When the Americans begin constructing the third stage of their missile defense plans in Europe and the effectiveness of our strategic nuclear forces is jeopardized, serious issues will arise regarding Russia's appropriate reaction," Russia Today quoted Antonov as saying.

The first and second phases of the U.S. antimissile plan for Europe are also a cause for worry among Russian government defense strategists, he added. "This is the time the foundation for the modernization of the U.S. missile defense system will be laid. Furthermore, no one is saying there will be no fifth, sixth and seventh stages."

No matter what ultimate form U.S. missile defenses take in Europe, Antonov vowed Moscow would be prepared for the most threatening possible outcome. "Such a scenario is likely and we are preparing for it" (Russia Today, May 2).

May 2, 2012
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Russia expects NATO will use this month's high-profile meeting in Chicago to decide on next steps for implementation of a ballistic missile defense system in Europe, RIA Novosti reported.

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