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)
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid