News / Europe

US, Russia Still at Odds Over Missile Defense

A US sailor looks on from his station next to the weapons control deck of the USS Monterey, carrying AEGIS class ballistic missile defense technology, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, June 7, 2011 (file photo)
A US sailor looks on from his station next to the weapons control deck of the USS Monterey, carrying AEGIS class ballistic missile defense technology, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, June 7, 2011 (file photo)

A ballistic missile defense system stationed in Europe has been a contentious issue between the United States and Russia for many years.

The Bush administration first proposed to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic. That proposal addressed Iran’s long-range ballistic missile threat. But in September 2009, President Barack Obama canceled the Bush plan, opting for what experts describe as a more flexible approach.

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, a private research group, said the Obama system is designed to deal with the missile threat that already exists - the short and medium-range missiles that could come from Iran.

“They [Iranians] have short-range ballistic missiles that are capable of reaching their immediate neighbors within a couple hundred kilometers of their border," said Kimball. "They have some medium-range missiles that can strike the edges of Europe and Israel - all of these are armed with conventional warheads.”

Obama missile-defense plan

The Obama plan involves putting SM-3 ground-based interceptors in Poland by 2015 and in Romania by 2018. These are still being developed.

But Marko Papic, analyst with STRATFOR, a private intelligence firm, said there are SM-3 missiles aboard U.S. Navy ships and those are included in the Obama missile defense plan.

“The United States can position wherever the threat is most imminent from," said Papic. "So, for example, the U.S. could steam its vessels into the Baltic Sea or the Mediterranean or the Black Sea and position a counter to potential missile threats from the Middle East or from North Korea from there - which is why the ground-based component of it, it’s not really clear it’s even necessary.”

For years, Russian officials have criticized the U.S. missile defense plan. They do not believe its goal is to defend against possible missile attacks from rogue countries.

Russia's suspicion

Arms control expert Joseph Cirincione said Russia is convinced the U.S. seeks advantage over Moscow, knowing its nuclear forces are slowly declining.

“They are aging and Russia doesn’t have the money to replace them one-for-one," said Cirincione. "They are worried that the U.S. is going to seek some advantage by putting up a ring of anti-missile systems around Russia, supposedly aimed at Iran but the Russians believe secretly aimed at them, and then be able to take out Russia’s nuclear forces in a first strike, mopping up whatever is left by an anti-missile system that could shoot down Russian missiles. That is a complete fantasy, by the way. There is no truth to that whatsoever.”

Papic with STRATFOR said that for Moscow, it really doesn’t matter what kind of missiles the Americans put in place in Europe.

“Because ultimately, the Russian deterrent is not countered by this plan - and that’s because Russia has an overwhelming number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that it could launch on Europe if it really wanted to, with, of course, multiple warheads and things like that. So there is absolutely no way America can prevent an attack.”

Fear of US presence

Papic and others say Russia realizes the military part of its criticism is bogus. But Papic said what is unacceptable to Moscow, is that the U.S. missile defense installations represent a move by American forces into central and Eastern Europe.

“Fundamentally, what Russia doesn’t want to see, is American quote-unquote ‘boots on the ground’ - moving from their positions of Cold War Germany and Western Europe, closer to Russia’s sphere of influence and periphery,” said Papic.

At the NATO summit in Lisbon last year, the United States and Russia agreed to collaborate on the issue of missile defense. Experts say while some progress has been made, Moscow is still fundamentally opposed to the U.S. missile defense plan.


You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs