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21 Jan, 2010 17:36

Patriots under scrutiny: three views on missiles in Poland

Under amended plans, the Patriot missile launchers, designed to shoot down planes and cruise missiles, are to be placed just 100 kilometers from the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad region.

This is in compensation for US President Barack Obama’s decision last year to shelve a long-range missile interceptor scheme for Central Europe that had infuriated Russia.

This could mean a new twist in the fiery US-Russia missile dispute.

Political analyst Vladimir Kozin sees this as threat to Russia’s interests.

“It's a direct threat to Russia's national interests, because these Patriot missiles are just the first step,” said Kozin. “In the long term, the ground-based interceptor systems may appear, which is alarming at a time when we are approaching the signing of START.”

But according to military journalist Viktor Litovkin, the Patriots are not a threat to Russia, as it has no plans to attack Poland or any other country.

“It’s a compensation for the Poles for not placing the strategic missiles, as well as a way to cure Polish phobias,” Litovkin said. “Now it is clear who Poland is afraid of, though it is not clear why.”

Journalist Fred Weir from the Christian Science Monitor suggests keeping the big picture in mind.

“We need to keep in mind that when Obama took that old Bush-era plan off the table, he really reduced the tensions and created the conditions for a new START treaty,” Weir said. “The local problems in Europe – between Russia and NATO – are disturbing, but they are not of the same caliber.”