‘Moscow has every right to feel threatened by US missile defense in Romania’

A view shows the command center for the newly opened ballistic missile defense site at Deveselu air base, Romania, May 12, 2016. © Octav Ganea
Not only Russians, but Europeans living near this base in Romania, and the proposed base in Poland, should feel insecure by these developments and threatened by what’s happening around them, Tony Robinson, co-director of the Pressenza news agency, told RT.

A US missile defense shield was officially activated this week at the Deveselu base in Romania. Russia's Foreign Ministry says the US system could be used to launch cruise missiles and that it therefore violates a key arms treaty signed between Moscow and Washington in 1987.

US and NATO officials, ignoring warnings from Moscow that Russia will be forced to respond militarily to the buildup on its border, are steaming ahead with the construction of another anti-missile base in Poland.

RT: Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says that one solution was for everybody to sit down and talk about the best way forward. But as a result we have a very one-sided approach. Why do you think the US took this unilateral approach to a system that threatens the strategic balance in Europe?

Tony Robinson: Because the US is controlled by the military industrial complex – its famous concept from decades ago. And there are a lot of people who are controlling the US government who are making lots of money out of their defense contracts. Of course there was a fantastic opportunity between [Mikhail] Gorbachev and the first President [George H. W.] Bush to come up with some kind of an agreement as Germany reunified. Russia could have been accepted into NATO and together they could have built a common defense against any perceived threats that come from outside. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case, because that is not what the American administration wants.

RT: Americans say that Russia shouldn’t have to be afraid of what is happening here, because of the defense shield is not directed against Russia. Should Russia be satisfied with that response?

TR: No, I don’t think it should be satisfied at all. Any buildup of military hardware personnel on the borders of another country are going to be perceived in that capital as a threat. I am sure is very simple in terms of technological modifications in order to adapt one particular installation to do any number of different activities. So Moscow indeed has every right to feel slightly threatened by these developments.

RT: Should Europe feel concerned by Russia’s response to this too? Russia says that here they have no other option than to defend their own country.

TR: It was only a few years ago that there was large demonstrations in the Czech Republic for precisely this reason that the US was proposing to build a radar base in the Czech Republic, and people felt that it was going to be a threat in case of any conflict between Russia and NATO. The first things that are going to be taken out are going to be the military installations. I think the people in Europe, the people living near this base in Romania and near this new proposed base in Poland should very rightly feel not secured by these developments, but very much threatened by what’s happening around them.

RT: There is one concern from Russia – that it basically gives America the capacity of a first strike. That it could launch a nuclear attack on Russia, and Russia would fundamentally not have the time to respond by the time it was destroyed. Is that too much of a simplified argument?

TR: Well, both sides have got the possibility of launching first strikes. Whatever kind of defensive shield system that is created is always going to be open to error. We know that there has been a lot of testing. But we know that still missiles are able to get through them. So any launch of an attack is not going to be a half a dozen missiles, it is probably going to be hundreds, if they are really seriously intent on taking the other side out. I think that both sides really should be talking about how on Earth they should be reducing the number of nuclear weapons that they’ve got targeted at each other, and the hair-trigger status of all these systems.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.