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The US national missile defense, especially its European component, is one of the major irritants in the Russia — US bilateral relations. The USA insists it is created to counter the threat coming from Iran and North Korea. Russia says geography, physics laws, and irrefutable facts clearly indicate the system is aimed at Russia not Iran. It makes its legitimate concern justified.

The situation has devolved into a long term stalemate. The USA refuses to provide any solid guarantee the system is not aimed at Russia instead of assurances of its good intentions. The Moscow joint missile defense initiative has fallen on deaf ears. Numerous attempts to find a compromise have been futile, so Moscow announced last fall it was taking steps to minimize the threat for Russian nuclear deterrence. New radars and strike forces are commissioned to counter it, the efforts to create new delivery means and warheads invulnerable to presently deployed and potential missile defense systems have been intensified.

That’s the background the US has made a decision to make a «good will gesture» against. According to Kommersant there have been talks held and Ellen Tauscher, US Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense at the State Department, has supposedly introduced the Russian side to the secret information concerning missile defense elements to assure it the system fully complied with the stated objectives and posed no threat to Russia’s security. The acquaintance with characteristics of SM-3 interceptor in particular was to persuade Russia that the European missile defense component did not possess the capability to counter Russian missiles.

It was made precise the information was considered to be completely useless. The Kommersant source defined its adequacy and acuteness «in no uncertain terms». Having been convinced the talks of previous pattern were destitute of any whatsoever constructive approach, the Russian Federation decided to move the process to a new stage. The Ministry of Defense has announced plans to hold an international conference on May 3-4 to produce evidence of potential threat to Russian nuclear forces posed by the European missile shield.

Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State, refused to comment these allegations. Informal sources reported the talks between Ellen Tauscher and Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov produced nothing more than a confirmation of intent to seek a compromise, there was no secret data delivered. «The United States did not transfer any secret data on tactical and technical characteristics either of missiles or of any other elements of the deployed missile shield,» Sergey Ryabkov emphasized. Actually, even if the data on interceptors were delivered, the fact would hardly change anything. In case missile characteristics are used as security criteria, considerable efforts are required to produce reliable guarantees. The only way to make sure the missiles posed no threat to Russian deterrence force would be to have a Russian state commission on spot at a production facility to verify the real characteristics conformity with the ones stated in US delivered «secret data». Otherwise who can guarantee it’s not bluff?

Besides that constant monitoring would be required to check if the elements deployed at Redzikovo air base and the town of Morong in Poland really have the declared composition and no changes were made. How can one make sure the «incapable» missiles are not substituted with the «capable» ones? The effectiveness of such activity is finally doomed to be dubious, but anyway, it would require more effort and significant steps on the part of the USA.

It hardly gives any ground for hope. Washington even refuses to provide Russia with written guarantees the missile defense is not directed against Russia, so one can hardly expect it to give Russian military experts access to the whole infrastructure chain from production to commissioning. It would be naпve. But without this condition any data that cannot be verified is little different in substantiveness from talks about «missile defense, North Korea and Iran». The USA has no intent to direct talks into more clearly defined pattern and start a discussion concerning, for instance, the issue of why missile defense shield elements designed to counter a threat coming from Iran should be stationed in Poland, a hundred kilometers from the Russian border?

The conference announced by Russian Ministry of Defense scheduled to take place on May 3-4, is really an event of importance. Military delegations of many states are invited including the USA, China and India. The Russian stance on missile defense will be presented in detail. Preliminary computer modeling shows the European missile defense is going to acquire partial detection and kill capability against Russian territory launched intercontinental ballistic missiles at the third stage of the program implementation plan and full strike capability at the fourth stage.

No matter the event will inevitably be on the radar screen of world media outlets, its goal is not to make the USA come clean and make it reject its plans. It’s hardly possible actually.

So much effort already applied it could hardly be cancelled now. But the information made public at the conference could give exhaustive explanation why Russia will have to upgrade its nuclear shield, regroup and bolster its armed forces in the next few years. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the door is not shut to dialogue on missile defense, but changes are to be expected. «By 2017-2018 we must be fully prepared, fully armed,» — Medvedev said at an enlarged Defense Ministry board. «So that we could be in a due shape and capable to respond to the missile defense in Europe,» — he explained adding the corresponding instructions had been given to the Ministry. The President stressed Russia may pull out of existing arms control agreements with the USA to maintain parity under the conditions imposed.

There may be other results of the May conference too, but first of all the event is needed to avoid the situation when Russia’s adequate response to external threats is used for the purposes of information wars, where victims are quite often made party at fault.




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The US national missile defense, especially its European component, is one of the major irritants in the Russia — US bilateral relations. The USA insists it is created to counter the threat coming from Iran and North Korea. Russia says geography, physics laws, and irrefutable facts clearly indicate the system is aimed at Russia not Iran. It makes its legitimate concern justified.


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