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U.S. missile plans goad Russia into retaliation - expert

RIA Novosti

10/07/2007 18:30 MOSCOW, July 10 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. plans to deploy its missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic is a ploy to militarize Europe and lure Russia into retaliation, a Russian political expert said Tuesday.

"By placing elements of its missile shield [in Europe], the United States is attempting to secure adequate financing for its missile defense program, which is highly ineffective, to introduce a structural element of confrontation in Europe, which will always be an irritant, and to goad Russia into some response," said Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy.

U.S. plans to place 10 interceptors in Poland, and a radar in the Czech Republic have become one of the main issues of contention in relations between Russia and United States, bringing them recently to their lowest point since the Cold War.

In an initial response to the U.S. move, Moscow threatened to point Russian warheads at Europe and pull out of a conventional arms reduction treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), but seemingly softened its stance when President Vladimir Putin proposed at a Group of Eight leading industrialized nations summit in Germany to jointly use the Gabala radar in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

During his informal talks with George W. Bush early last week, the Russian president also proposed that the United States jointly use a radar being built in southern Russia, in addition to the missile early warning facility in Gabala.

Washington appeared to have welcomed the Russian initiatives, but U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said July 7 that despite Russia's alternative proposals on security guarantees in Europe the United States would continue efforts to deploy missile defense elements in Ñentral Europe.

Earlier last week, Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is in charge of the country's defense industry and a leading candidate to succeed Putin as the Russian president, suggested that Moscow could deploy new missiles in western Russia if Washington rejects Russia's proposals.

Russian military experts immediately supported his statements by saying Russia could deter U.S. global missile defense plans by large-scale deployment of RS-24 ICBMs with multiple warheads, Bulava-30 sea-launched missiles, and short range Iskander-M missiles based in the Kaliningrad Region bordering NATO countries.

Karaganov warned Tuesday that Russia should exercise caution and never let the West lure it into the trap of starting an arms race similar to the Cold War period.

"If this is bait, we should not take it, and we must avoid loudly declaring our intent to deploy middle-range ballistic missiles, which we do not have, etc," the political expert said.

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