Russia 'retains right' to pre-emptive strike on missile shield
“Russia is constantly speaking about guarantees of ABM systems not targeting it, but we think we need to come to cooperation. We provide guarantees after we start cooperating,” Ellen Tauscher, US Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense, told reporters at the end of the first day of the Moscow ABM conference.
Earlier on Thursday Russia’s Chief of General Staff Nikolay Makarov stated that Russia might consider a pre-emptive strike an option in certain circumstances.
“Considering the destabilizing nature of the [American] ABM system, namely the creation of an illusion of inflicting a disarming [nuclear] strike with impunity, a decision on pre-emptive deployment of assault weapons could be taken when the situation gets harder,” Makarov said.
Among other measures, Russia has already promised to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Region if NATO fails to reach agreement with it on missile defense.
After Makarov`s remarks, the NATO delegation present at the conference hastened to take issue with the Russian general, saying that the ABM system would never target Russia.
Russia is concerned that the ultimate aim of America’s global ABM shield is the gradual diminution of the effectiveness of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Moscow says no country possesses any militarily significant quantity of nukes to pose a vital nuclear threat to the US other than Russia.
Vice chairman of the Polish foreign affairs committee Tadeusz Iwinski told RT a pre-emptive strike on Poland represented the “worst case scenario.”
Speaking as a representative of the Polish opposition, Iwinski, said an agreement between Russia and the United States was vital for his country’s security. He further claimed that US Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher “was ready to offer guarantees” that the ABM system“was not going to be against Russia.”
Political analyst Vladimir Orlov thinks that missile threats against Europe, which the shield is supposedly designed to counter, are “very much exaggerated.”
“Missile threats by those countries which Americans and Europeans claim develop long-range missiles, it is just not credible. Europe should not feel vulnerable and the issue is that Russia instead of Europe now feels vulnerable,” he asserted.
Moscow's proposition to develop a joint-European missile defense system has been turned down.
Political analyst Jan Tamas believes the generation of leaders in the Eastern European countries that want to join the US-led AMD system are still thinking in the terms of the Cold War. “They still have negative feelings towards Russia and are also partly afraid of Russia. They take this participation in the system as a sort of guarantee for their security,” he told RT.
“They don’t realize that this is not a guarantee but that it would actually make them a target.”
Also, the Obama administration refused to give cast-iron guarantees that the new ABM is not going to be deployed against Russia.
Bruce Gagnon from the 'Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space' think tank told RT the lack of guarantees reflects the US intention "to continue surrounding Russia and China with these so-called missile defense systems.”
Saying Iran has no missiles capable of hitting the United States, Gagnon says the system is aimed at Russia because it has “the world’s largest supply of natural gas.” He further argues “the Pentagon’s primary job today is to serve as a resource extraction service on behalf of corporate globalization.”
'Heading towards a dead end'
The Russian Defense Ministry has organized a representational international conference called “Missile Defense Factor in Establishing New Security Environment” on May 3-4 in Moscow to correlate positions of many interested states on the burning issue of missile defense.
Over 200 experts from military departments of 50 countries, including 28 NATO states, have gathered in the Russian capital to share opinions.
Opening the conference, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov stated that so far no mutually-acceptable solution to the issue of ABM has been found.
“The situation is practically heading towards a dead end,” acknowledged Servdyukov.
At the same time, the Russian president sent an address to the conference, sharing hope that a solution can be found.
“I believe we can find a formula which could help us avoid the division into those who win and those who lose,” President Medvedev insists.
The conference consists of several working groups. Russia’s Ministry of Defense is going to present a computer model of how the American ABM in Europe is going to influence Russia’s forces of nuclear containment.
Besides Russia and NATO member countries, experts from China, South Korea, Japan and CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) member states will participate in the Moscow conference.
As a goodwill gesture, Russia wants to make an excursion for the delegates to the heart of Moscow’s A-135 ABM system near the Russian capital.
No official documents are going to be signed as a result of the ABM conference in Moscow.