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Russian views on Missile Defence in Europe




«Quo Vadis, NATO?»

Bremen, 26-28.4.2013

Russian views on Missile Defence in Europe

1. It is a pleasure for me to address such a distinguished audience. Although before I begin I should confess that I am not a lawyer by training and will thus be speaking from a political and diplomatic perspective.

2. To the point. Many questions with regard to NATO MD efforts are still unanswered, for example:

– how will the NATO MD system that is supposed to strengthen the security of the Alliance strengthen security in Europe in general?

– how does BMD contribute to fostering the principle of indivisible security for all and not ensuring one’s security at the expense of others?

– do US/NATO BMD efforts and the concerns they are raising really correspond to the level of the threat?

3. NATO routinely brings up the point that “over 30 countries have or are acquiring missiles that could be used to carry conventional warheads and even weapons of mass destruction” and that these developments pose a threat to the Alliance. Moreover, BMD advocates assert that nuclear deterrence does not work against such regimes and non-state actors. Thus, without BMD security for NATO in Europe can hardly be ensured. This, however, begs the question: why do the NATO Strategic concept and the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review (DDPR), which was adopted at the NATO Chicago summit in May 2012, state that “The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance”? The logical conclusion is that in fact BMD can only play a very limited – if any – role in dealing with alleged threats. And one should also bear in mind that by most accounts, the risk of an Iranian or North Korean missile attack on Europe is “near zero”, despite the rhetoric.

4. The contradiction between stated policies only serves to increase Russian – and, I assume, certain other states’ – concerns about the true US/NATO agenda behind the BMD deployments in Europe and elsewhere. Because there exists an interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms. If one party tries to increase its defensive capability, it “devalues” the nuclear deterrent of the other, forcing that party to respond by, among other things, strengthening its nuclear arsenal. This generates instability and as a result, there is less security and less predictability for all.

It should be noted here that the recent US announcement on changes to their MD plans, in fact, the cancellation of the 4th Phase of their EPAA, does not much change the equation. It is already clear that US MD assets in Europe will remain part of their global missile defence, but “with a twist”. Namely, their contribution to the defence of US mainland against ostensible Iranian or North Korean ICBMs will be almost non-existent, these assets will be mainly protecting Europe.

5. Despite these unsettling facts, Russia has made several constructive proposals on BMD since we want it to become an area of cooperation, of common business with NATO, not a contentious issue.

Regrettably, NATO so far has not been very receptive to our ideas on this account. The USA and its NATO allies have been moving ahead with the “phased adaptive approach”, which will result in a BMD architecture that can eventually pose a threat to the national security of Russia. Rather than trying to hear and assuage our concerns over European BMD NATO allies simply keep reiterating that  not directed against Russia and that there is no reason for us to be concerned. For example, the NATO DDPR, adopted in Chicago, states that “NATO’s missile defence is not oriented against Russia nor does it have the capability to undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent”. This is a step in the right direction, yet it falls far short of what Russia would expect.

6. In view of the above it is of critical importance for us to have clear legally binding guarantees that the BMD system being deployed will not be directed against Russia. Such guarantees should be supported by transparency measures and objective military-technical parameters (i.e. interceptor speed; locations of BMD assets;  number of interceptors; coverage of MD systems; power  and orientation of BMD radars, etc.).

Finally, I would like to stress that we are ready to continue the dialogue and to seek solutions. Yet the more US/NATO BMD plans are becoming “facts on the ground”, the less time for finding a compromise remains.

Quelle: Online-Zeitung Schattenblick,