The last few days passed accompanied with the discussion of results of the visit of American Secretary of State Madeleine Allbright to Russia by the Russian mass media. On the eve of her visit to Moscow it was already clear that the US opened a new page in the Russian-American relations, which will most likely have the character of unequal partnership and domination of the will of the American Administration in the bilateral contacts.
In one of its publications on January 21 Kommersant-Daily (see Kommersant-Daily, January 21, 1999, p. 1) pointed out that “in the annual message to the nation and congress “On the situation in the country”, announced on January 19, President Bill Clinton actually declared a new American course towards Russia: from support to neutralization. He promised to increase the financial aid to Russia for destruction of its nuclear warheads by 66.6% and do his best to prevent coming of the nuclear and other dangerous Russian technologies to the wrong hands.”
In her interview to Los Angeles Times Allbright spoke for the necessity to develop and deploy the system of defense from ballistic missiles. At first the Russian officials reacted to her statement, to put it mild, not very actively. The Foreign Ministry, Presidential Administration and the government kept silent, evidently unwilling to kindle the anti-American attitude in Russian society on the eve of the visit of Allbright to Moscow. Only in the Defense Ministry colonel general Ivashov, director of the Main Department of International Military Cooperation, made a statement on January 18, in which he said that the Russian Defense Ministry considers such political moves of the American officials like “violation of the strategic stability” and reminded that the Anti-Missile Defense Treaty (AMD) is closely connected with the START treaty.
He announced that revision of the AMD treaty, leaving apart its cancellation by the US, would not only actually bury ratification of the START-2 treaty by the Duma, but would also destroy the whole current system of strategic offensive arms limitation. The general expressed his doubt in the realistic character of the threats, coming from the North Korea or Iraq, for protection from which the US allegedly deploys the national anti-missile defense system: “Any military experts understands that these countries do not have, and will hardly have the guaranteed vehicles for delivery of the weapons to the US.”
Defense Ministry considers the statement of the White House to be “targeted against the Russian security interests.” (Interfax, January 18)
Meanwhile, a new sensation appeared in the American press. New York Times published the information from the diplomatic correspondence, according to which Bill Clinton sent a personal letter to Boris Yeltsin, in which it officially notified him that the US would improve the national anti-missile defense system for defense against the missiles of Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
Appearance of the article coincided with the speech with Us Secretary for Defense William Cohen, who officially announced about the intention of Pentagon to spend $6.6 billion within the next few years for creation of the ground structure of the national anti-missile defense system. Again there was a slow reaction of the Russian authorities to the letter of Clinton to Yeltsin and the speech of Cohen. Only on January 22 Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov announced that “Russia considers making of some amendments to the AMD treaty to be principally impossible.”
It is known that the AMD treaty was signed in 1972. It forbids creation of the anti-missile defense system of the country’s territory, permitting only deployment of the stationary ground anti-missile defense systems in one strictly limited region. In Russia, like the successor of the USSR, this is Moscow region, and in the US- the area of the inter-continental ballistic missiles base in Grand-Forks (North Dakota). In each of them the AMD treaty permits to have not more than 100 launchers and not more than 100 anti-missile missiles of strategic anti-missile defense system.
At first glance, the present American plan of the national anti-missile defense system deployment does not contradict to the AMD treaty. American representatives offer deployment of the “limited anti-missile defense system” in one region. Anyway, according to the Russian military experts, in reality a system is developed , which has such control and detection systems (including the space one), which allow its broadening to the national scale at any moment “through a simple mechanic increase of the anti-missile missiles.”
According to colonel general Ivashov, this system will allow the US to cover the territory with the radius of 3,000 km, “that is, practically all 50 states”, but the AMD treaty permits having a system with the radius up to 150 km.
William Cohen announced that the decision about the national anti-missile defense system deployment would be made in June of 2000. Due to this Pentagon plans to represent a budget in February, which stipulates increase of spending for the national anti-missile defense system by $6.6 billion. The overall assignments for the new system will equal up to $10.5 billion. It is planned to start its deployment in 2005. According to Cohen, the national anti-missile defense system is developed with the orientation primarily at the counter-action to the threats on the part of the outlaw countries, and can not serve as a shield from the Russian nuclear potential. He added that such task was not set for the new system.
Cohen explained that if it is impossible to modify the AMD treaty respectively, the US might simply cancel it.
On January 22 the White House made the respective explanations. According to Robert Bell, top ranking official of the National Security Council staff, who is a special presidential advisor for the defense policy and armament control, the statements of Pentagon do not mean that the US would necessarily cancel the treaty in the unilateral manner.
On January 22 ITAR-TASS reported, referring to Bell, that “deployment of the national anti-missile defense system might demand, and might not demand modification of the AMD treaty.” According to Bell, “If it demands such modification, we will openly achieve conclusion of the respective agreement with the Russians.” Anyway, the US did not make any certain suggestions, regarding negotiations about this issue.
This statement contrasts with the statements of Joseph Lockhart, spo0kesman for the White House, which were made several hours earlier. According to Lockhart, last week President Clinton sent a letter to president Yeltsin, which offered him to revise some conditions of the AMD treaty of 1972. According to the other officials of the Presidential Administration, who talked to the journalists and wished to remain anonymous, the AMD treaty can not serve as an obstacle to the national anti-missile defense system deployment by the US. Until recently the Administration of Clinton was cautious in its statements about this. Representatives of the Republican Party in the Congress are considered to be the main authors of the national anti-missile defense system development. The guardians of “Reugan’s heritage” actively demand the Presidential Administration to revise the AMD treaty, actually speaking for the cancellation of the treaty.
During their meetings with Allbright the Russian leaders evidently understood what wanted the Americans very well. During her visit to Moscow many Russian officials made the statements about the non-acceptance of the American plans.
During his phone conversation with Allbright President Yeltsin expressed his concern about the practical start of the national anti-missile defense system development.
Anton Surikov, spokesman for Senior Vice Premier Yury Maslyukov, made very severe statements about this on January 25. He announced that, first of all, according to Maslyukov, cancellation of the AMD treaty “will influence third nuclear powers”, that is Great Britain, France and China. Their nuclear forces are much inferior to those of the US and Russia, that is why deployment of even a limited anti-missile defense system can devaluate the nuclear forces of these countries. Hence, they will try to increase their nuclear potential, including the inexpensive methods: increase of the MIRV missiles.
Second, according to Maslyukov, the degree of the nuclear missile threat on the part of the outlaw countries is exaggerated and too dramatized.
Due to this, Vladimir Yakovlev, Strategic Nuclear Forces commander, made an original suggestion regarding the anti-missile defense issues. He announced that it would have been expedient to conclude a treaty on strategic partnership with participation of not only Russia and US, but also France, Great Britain and China. He offered to forbid development of the means for destruction of the space systems for warning about missile attacks. Yakovlev added that within the framework of the future treaty on strategic stability “it is necessary to talk about the limitations of the conventional arms and high precision weapons, as well as separate the tactical and strategic anti-missile defense systems.”
Thus, the opinion of the Russian society about the American offers to revise the AMD treaty was unanimous. Only the leader of Yabloko movement agreed with the American idea of the anti-missile defense modernization in principle, having added that it is also necessary to form the anti-missile defense system for the whole Europe. Anyway, knowing about the pro-American position of Yavlinsky, nobody in the Russian society took this statement seriously.