Just Another Guy with Opinions

Russia Angry Over US Missile Plans

Posted by shadmia on June 6, 2007


Relations have not been so strained between Russia and the US since the days of the Cold War. The once cordially wary “friends” have been turning up the rhetoric against each other lately; all because of a US plan to include both the Czech Republic and Poland (two former Soviet block countries) in a missile defense system needed to counter a potential threat from Iran.

The Bush Administration plan is to place a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. They insist that the plan is not directed at and has nothing to do with Russia. They also insist that they have the right to do whatever they deem necessary to protect America and its interests:

The US will not allow Russia to stop it from deploying anti-missile defenses in Europe, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said in Moscow. “I don’t think anyone expects the United States to permit a veto on American security interests,” she said after meeting President Vladimir Putin.

On the other hand the Russians see the US plan as a direct threat to Russia. President Vladimir Putin put it this way:

“If a part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States appears in Europe and, in the opinion of our military specialists, will threaten us, then we will have to take appropriate steps in response.

According to Putin “appropriate action” could include targeting nuclear weapons at Europe:

We will have to have new targets in Europe,” Putin said, according to a transcript released by the Kremlin. These could be targeted with “ballistic or cruise missiles or maybe a completely new system” he said. And as if to prove the seriousness of his statements Putin announced the successful test firing of new Russian missiles calling it a response to U.S. plans to build missile defense sites across Europe, and suggested Washington is pursuing an imperialist policy that has triggered a new arms race.

In one of the tests, a prototype of Russia’s new intercontinental ballistic missile, called the RS-24, was fired from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk launch site in northwestern Russia and its test warhead landed on target 3,400 miles away on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far eastern part of the country, officials said.

The military also tested a new cruise missile based on the existing short-range Iskander missile. “It can be used at long range with surgical precision,” according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. “Russia needs this weapon to maintain strategic stability.” the new cruise missile, R-500, will have a range of up to 310 miles, the limit under a Soviet-era treaty that banned intermediate-range missiles.

“It wasn’t us who initiated a new round of arms race,” Putin said when asked about Russia’s missile tests this week at a news conference in Moscow. In a clear reference to the United States, Putin harshly criticized “diktat and imperialism” in global affairs and warned that Russia will keep strengthening its military potential to maintain a global strategic balance.

As for the American assertion that the missile defense system was to protect against incoming missiles that Iran might launch. Mr Putin expressed skepticism:

“There are no such missiles – Iran does not have missiles with the range”. The US was insisting, he said, that the defense system was to be “installed for the protection from something that does not exist. Is it not sort of funny? It would be funny if it were not so sad.”


He speculated that the real motive was to provoke Russia’s retaliation and so “to avoid further closeness of Russia and Europe”.

The Chinese have also weighed in on the debate supporting the Russian position, saying it could shift the strategic balance of power.

“The Chinese side has always held that missile defense impacts the strategic balance and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said when asked about the U.S. plan, which has drawn angry warnings from Russia. “It is not conducive to mutual trust between major powers and also regional security,” Jiang told a news conference. “It can also bring new proliferation problems.”

Both President Bush and President Putin are headed to the G8 conference in Germany where they will confront disagreements over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Kosovo, as well as human rights and missile defense. Mr. Bush has also invited Mr. Putin to the Bush family compound in Maine early next month, in what American officials hope will be a more relaxed setting where the two can try to mend fences.



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