UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


U.S. defense system in Poland "threat to Russia" says expert

RIA Novosti

11/10/2007 18:30 MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - The missile defense elements the U.S. plans to deploy in Poland could be used as shock weapons, and present a real threat to Russia, a Russian military expert said on Thursday.

"The antimissile missiles the U.S. plans to deploy in Poland are capable of flying along a ballistic trajectory, and can be considered a shock weapon. They can easily be equipped with special warheads and are fairly precise," Professor Vladimir Zavaly, a missile defense expert, told RIA Novosti.

The United States announced in January its plans to deploy components of its global antimissile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland to avert possible strikes from "rogue states," such as Iran and North Korea. The U.S. says it intends to deploy 10 antimissile missiles in Poland.

Russia strongly opposes Washington's plans, announced early this year, to place a missile interceptor base in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic, considering them a threat to its national security.

Top Russian and U.S. defense officials and diplomats will meet in Moscow October 12-13 to continue discussions on missile defense in Central Europe. Talks between Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and State Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

Zavaly said that Russian missile attack warning systems would be unable to react in time if antimissile missiles were to be launched at the country.

"In reality, the warning system's ability to react to the launch of such missiles... will be down to a minimum - two or three minutes," he said.

Talks in Moscow are expected to focus on Russia's proposal that the U.S. use the Gabala radar system instead of deploying facilities in Europe, as well as on the moratorium on the Soviet-era arms reduction CFE treaty Russia imposed in the wake of the current dispute.

Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, passed a statement last week urging Warsaw and Prague to hold an inter-parliamentary conference on the U.S. missile shield plans.

"Arguments in favor of deploying [missile] systems in the center of Europe to protect NATO members from a hypothetical threat emanating from Iran and North Korea are implausible," lawmakers said in the statement.

Russian lawmakers said new bases would also weaken mutual trust, affecting efforts directed against international terrorism and other security challenges.

Opposition parties in Poland and the Czech Republic are also against the plans, as is public opinion in both countries.

Europe's human rights watchdog canceled a debate on the political consequences of deploying the U.S. missile defense elements when opening its fall session on October 1, after the majority of PACE members voted against the Russian-proposed debate.

Zavaly said there are no agreements controlling missile defense elements deployed in Poland. He also said the Czech radar would monitor all of Russia's airspace activity in the east of the country. "U.S. eyes and ears will be keeping track of it," he said.

Zavaly said the Americans would not agree to fully cooperate with Russia on missile defense. "The U.S. policy is not to wreck [bilateral] relations finally, but to give the impression of cooperation with us. Russia will gain nothing from this," he added.

At the G8 summit in June, President Vladimir Putin offered the U.S. the use of the Gabala radar station as a compromise solution in the ongoing dispute. The radar, located near the town of Minchegaur, 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Azerbaijani capital Baku, was leased to Russia for 10 years in 2002.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list