View Full Version : Analysis: Advantage to Russia in US missile move

09-18-2009, 05:13 PM
Analysis: Advantage to Russia in US missile move

Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Kremlin got exactly what it wanted when the United States scrapped plans for missile defenses on Russia's borders.

And Moscow wasted no time in trying to show, at least publicly, that it has ceded nothing in return and, in fact, intends to press for more from Washington.

Iran and its nuclear intentions loomed over Thursday's decision by the Obama administration to abandon the idea of placing a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Lurking not far under the surface were deeper issues such as the fate of Washington's staunchest allies in the former Soviet bloc and their fears of their massive eastern neighbor.

For now, Russia appears to have the upper hand - the Kremlin can crow to a domestic audience about staring down the Americans and thumbing its nose at the upstart Poles. The White House is hoping for more cooperation from Moscow on Iran and other simmering international issues, something that's far from a sure thing.

Missile defense in Eastern Europe was arguably the most serious thorn in the U.S.-Russian relationship, with Moscow repeatedly and angrily insisting that the system was pointless against an imagined Iranian threat - and was a grave threat to Russian national security.

On the day after Barack Obama won his historic election victory last year, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in lieu of congratulations, threw down the gauntlet, threatening to put sophisticated short-range Iskander missiles on Poland's border if Washington didn't stop the deployment.

On the day Obama announced the decision to scrap the plan, Medvedev said that was the right move all along - a smug announcement that made no concessions and sounded like a lecture to a wayward teenager.

He took a similarly blunt tone in an interview with Swiss media that was posted on the Kremlin Web site Friday, saying: "If our partners hear any of our concerns, then we of course we will more carefully consider their concerns. But this doesn't mean primitive compromises and swaps."

"We are mature enough not to tie one decision to another," he said. "But there always is a score in politics. This is also obvious."

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who often found incendiary ways to describe the United States as president before Medvedev, praised the decision. He then promptly demanded more, such as lifting Cold War-era trade restrictions.

"I very much hope that this right and brave decision will be followed up by others, including the full cancellation of all restrictions on cooperation with Russia and high technology transfer to Russia as well as a boost to expand the (World Trade Organization) to embrace Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan," Putin told an investment forum.

Russia is the largest economy without WTO membership, and Moscow accuses Washington of being behind that.

It was unclear what behind-the-scenes talks went on between Moscow and Washington before Obama's announcement Thursday. Russian officials said there was no quid pro quo.

Medvedev foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said the move would require the Kremlin to "attentively consider new possibilities opening up for cooperation and interaction."

And the announcement Friday that Russia would not deploy Iskander missiles near the Polish border? That had merely been a threat, not an actual deployment.

Neil MacFarlane, a Russia expert at Oxford University, said the Obama decision was made for technical reasons, not as a result of some deal with Russia.

"A specific quid pro quo? I doubt it," he said. "But was there a nod and a wink? Well, I don't know."

Where Washington is counting on Moscow for serious help is on Iran, and pressing it to stop moving toward development of nuclear weapons. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will join U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and counterparts from the three other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in New York next week for discussions on Iran.

But there's no indication that Russia - a major trading partner with Iran - is yet willing to support harsher U.S. measures against Tehran. Prikhodko gave no hint whether Moscow could edge closer to the U.S. position, and Lavrov made the same signal in a speech given just hours before Obama's announcement.

"There is a real chance to engage in talks which could result in an agreement allowing us to regain confidence in exclusively peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear program," Lavrov said. "It would be a grave mistake to ruin that chance by demanding a quick introduction of sanctions."

While Moscow may be content, countries like Poland and the Czech Republic fear Obama's decision has only darkened the shadow that Russia has long cast over them.

On Friday, in the same Polish tabloid whose headline screamed "Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back," President Lech Kaczynski wrote that Poland had been left in a dangerous "gray zone."

That fear may be even more acute in Ukraine and Georgia. Both aspire for NATO membership, yet Moscow considers both to be part of its historic sphere of influence.

"Russia will probably also get the right to lobby for not letting Ukraine and Georgia join NATO for the near future," said Viktor Chumak, a foreign policy expert with the International Center for Policy Studies in Kiev. "We are losing the possibility to enter NATO in the immediate future."

Georgia, in particular, has staked its future on the U.S. countering Russia's dominance in the strategic South Caucasus. Many had hoped the U.S. would have done more to help Georgia in its war last year with Russia, which resulted in the loss of the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Temuri Yakobashvili, the Georgian government minister in charge of efforts to regain control of the regions, said Washington has given in to Russia - during the war and now with missile defense - and warned that Moscow will now seek even more concessions.

"I don't think that they will be satisfied with only this," he told The Associated Press

09-18-2009, 08:35 PM
Since when did it matter if Russia had an advantage? We're not enemies, are we?

09-18-2009, 08:52 PM
We're not exactly friends either. Plus they can play it off to their people and allies they bullied the U.S. into not deploying the missile defense thus gaining political clout with them. How do you think Georgia, Ukraine , Poland and the Czech republic feel now, the U.S. can be bullied by us. Is it true? hell no but those countries are very close to them and now may rethink there leanings towards us. I'm not talking about Poland's or the Czechs civies but there politicians .

09-18-2009, 09:04 PM
We're not exactly friends either. Plus they can play it off to their people and allies they bullied the U.S. into not deploying the missile defense thus gaining political clout with them. How do you think Georgia, Ukraine , Poland and the Czech republic feel now, the U.S. can be bullied by us. Is it true? hell no but those countries are very close to them and now may rethink there leanings towards us. I'm not talking about Poland's or the Czechs civies but there politicians .

Yeah, I hear ya. I suppose that they could feel let down.

09-21-2009, 12:51 AM
At the end of the day though we have to do what is in our own best interest and the interest of those who are actually in harms way in terms of Iran right now. With that said judging by the reports this new approach, with a more cost effective and proven missile defense capabilities, Obama's strategy should prove to be better, for now at least.

Plus, if they want to be in NATO then it seems to me that removing that defense shield would probably be best anyway. I couldn't imagine Russia's response to them joining NATO + having that shield right on their border. Also, it's about time we bury the hatchet with Russia.

09-21-2009, 01:28 AM
I actually believe that the US has won this one. Rather than stationing fixed land based interceptors, they have decided to use ship borne SM-3 missles. Later an additional land based system may be employed. Even the introduction of a compact X-Band radar will augment the identification of inbound missiles.

Remember, the US has already proved the SM-3 in the satellite shoot down.

So for me, the US takes this rounds and probably the next 11 in the missile defence fight.

09-21-2009, 02:02 AM


09-21-2009, 11:03 AM
So with that said, do you think that this will make Israel more likely to strike Iran? Since they know that they will be protected...

09-21-2009, 12:44 PM
New Missile Plan Better Suited Against Iran, Gates Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2009 – The new U.S. missile defense plan will offer better protection than a previous proposal even if intelligence forecasts on Iran prove wrong, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates escorts visiting Czech Defense Minister Martin Bartak through a cordon of honor guards and into the Pentagon, Sept. 18, 2009. The two defense leaders met to discuss the Obama Administration's latest decisions regarding missile defense technologies. DoD photo by R. D. Ward
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
As opposed to earlier plans to build ground-based components in Poland and the Czech Republic, the new sea-based approach is better suited to intelligence on Iranian threats and would provide protection sooner, the secretary said.

Going a step further, Gates -- a former CIA director -- said the new arrangement is preferable even if U.S. intelligence assessments that indicate Iran is more focused on developing short-range missiles over long-range capabilities prove incorrect.

“I probably am more familiar with the risks of over-reliance on intelligence than anybody, because I’ve seen how often it’s wrong,” he said. “If the intelligence is wrong, and the Iranians develop a capability sooner than the intelligence is saying, this architecture gives us a better chance of being able to cope with it than the [previous program], just because of the new technologies that are available that give us more flexibility.”

The defense secretary appeared before Pentagon reporters with his Czech counterpart, Martin Bartak, following a meeting that included discussion of the new missile defense system in Europe that President Barack Obama announced yesterday.

In December 2006, Gates recommended to then-President George W. Bush that the United States should put advanced radars in the Czech Republic and 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland. That was when intelligence officials gauged the development of Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile as the foremost threat to the United States and its allies.

Now, intelligence reports paint a different picture – that the country is moving faster to develop its shorter-range missiles.

“The original program that I recommended would have had no capability against short- and medium-range missiles until probably 2018,” Gates said today. “What the new system provides is some capability beginning in 2011 that will grow steadily each year in terms of its sophistication and its coverage of Europe. The next phase would begin in 2015.”

A drawback to the previous plan was that ground-based interceptors designed to deal with no more than five enemy missiles at once were prone to being overwhelmed by a larger salvo fired simultaneously, Gates said.

“What we have seen with the Iranians is that they’re producing and deploying significant numbers of short and intermediate missiles, and so [a salvo like that] could overwhelm even when the 10 interceptors were in place,” he said, though he added that research will continue on the ground-based system.

After much deliberation, Gates told reporters, his recommendation to Obama was to begin phasing in a missile defense system that puts radars and missiles in place sooner that are more suited to protect against the current threat. Plans are then to continue building on the system to increase its range of defense capabilities.

Deploying the Navy’s ships equipped with the Aegis weapons system to the region by 2011 drives the new plan’s initial phase. Their Standard Missile 3 interceptor has passed several tests in the past two years, and forward-position Army radar systems will support them.

This will give the military a smaller range of detection and protection, but is enough initially to protect U.S. troops and allies against Iran’s shorter-range missiles, officials said.

09-22-2009, 02:11 AM
So with that said, do you think that this will make Israel more likely to strike Iran? Since they know that they will be protected...


Israel's 'options open' on Iran

Israel's 'options open' on Iran
Isfahan nuclear plant, file pic
Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes

Israel has not ruled out any options in dealing with Iran's nuclear programme, a senior Israeli official has said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said there was no guarantee Israel would not launch a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The comments come after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Israel had assured him it had no such plans.

Tehran says its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes and denies it is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

In an interview with US network CNN, Mr Medvedev said Israeli President Shimon Peres had told him in person Israel was not planning any strikes on Iran.

According to a transcript of the interview, released by the Kremlin on Sunday, the Russian president said such a strike would cause a "humanitarian disaster" and be "the worst thing that can be imagined".

But Mr Ayalon said that remark was "certainly not a guarantee" that there would be no military action.

"I don't think that, with all due respect, the Russian president is authorised to speak for Israel and certainly we have not taken any option off the table," he said.

'Confront planes'

Israel's leaders have consistently said military action is an option in dealing with what they see as a serious nuclear threat from Iran, and Mr Ayalon's comments were later echoed by Israel's army chief, Lt Gen Gabi Ashkenazi.

He told Army Radio sanctions were the best way of "coping" with Iran, but if they did not work Israel had "the right to defend itself and all options are on the table".

Meanwhile, a former US national security adviser has said the US should consider using force to prevent Israeli planes from reaching Iran to launch such an attack.

"We are not exactly impotent little babies," Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served under US President Jimmy Carter, said in an interview with the Daily Beast news website.

"They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?"

He said the US had to be "serious" about denying Israeli planes the right to fly over Iraqi airspace to reach Iran. "That means a denial where you aren't just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them," he said.

"No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse," he said, referring to Israel's attack on the USS Liberty in the Six Day War in 1967 - Israel said it had thought the ship was a hostile Egyptian vessel.

The US, Russia, the UK, France, China and Germany are to attend international talks with Iran on 1 October which are expected to cover global nuclear disarmament.

On Sunday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denied his country intends to develop nuclear arms.

He said their production and use were prohibited, and that US allegations of a covert programme were false.

09-22-2009, 07:07 PM
Tehran says its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes and denies it is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Yeah, okay.... Despite the fact that they have repeatedly made public threats against Israel's existence.