Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Russia launches new missile defense to cover Atlantic

“Tango is a dance for two and there is no intention from the Russian side to bring the 'reset' to a close”.

For the last several weeks, President Dmitry Medvedev and most of the senior Russian officials have tensely been promising to reveal which measures Moscow will take if Europe deploys a missile defense system. "The possibility of local armed conflicts virtually along the entire perimeter of the border has grown dramatically," ­General Nikolai Makarov said. “I cannot rule out that, in certain circumstances, local and regional armed conflicts could grow into a large-scale war, possibly even with nuclear weapons” were probably the most alarming statements by the Russian administration.

Finally, on November 29th, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered to operate the newest radar system that protects from missile attacks and covers all of Europe and the Atlantic. Medvedev personally arrived in the westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad to see the opening of the operation. At the ceremony, the Russian President claimed that the radar launch was a sign to the Western partners that Russia was ready to promptly respond to threats that arise with the start of the European missile defense. "I expect that this step will be regarded by Western partners as the first signal of our country's readiness to appropriately respond to the threats posed by the missile defense system to our strategic nuclear forces," argued Medvedev.

Most of the western experts have been guessing whether Russia was trying to scare the West with some type of new weapon. However, after the press conference held last week, when President Dmitry Medvedev announced Russia’s response to missile defense talks with the US, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Western anxieties were calmed concerning the supposed “threat” from the Russian president for these following reasons:

First: One of Medvedev’s most used arguments was that Russia had developed the necessary means to disrupt the information and control systems of Western missile defense installations if necessary. This does not refer to nuclear missile attacks on those systems, but to the need for Russia’s military to develop the capacity for a cyber attack against U.S. missile defense systems. However, considering Russia’s extremely modest achievements in the field of information technology, it seems unlikely that they would be able to carry out such an attack. Also, a U.S./NATO counterattack along the same lines could be devastating and would probably deter such Russian intentions.

Second: The Russian administration has threatened and today indeed deployed the most modern attack systems, Iskander missile systems, in the Kaliningrad district. However, if Russia decides not to violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (as it announced earlier) the Iskander will not be able to fly further than 500 kilometers. In that case, the missiles could only reach part of Poland but none of Romania (where one of the NATO defenses missile systems is deployed). Moreover, the best single way to destroy missile defense systems is with a preemptive strike. That means Medvedev is threatening the possibility of starting a war against NATO, which is highly unbelievable.

Thus, all of Medvedev’s statements have no relationship to any real military threat or to Russia’s current capabilities. So far the question why NATO, which claims that the new missile defense is built against the threat from rogue states, can not provided such guarantees to Russia, has no an official answer….

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