The US plans to deploy ten interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar of antimissile defense (AMD) in the Czech Republic under the pretext of protection from proposed threat on the part of Iran. Last week, Washington and Prague signed an agreement on the deployment of an American radar of the AMD system on the Czech territory. Russia has frequently announced that these actions threaten its security and is prepared to take response measures. But which ones? The Times newspaper and Sunday Times weekly published an article of correspondent Marc Francetti from Moscow about upcoming deployment of Russian ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads in the Kaliningrad Region. Colonel General Victor Yesin, former chief of the main staff of the Strategic Missile Forces, says that this information is at odds with facts. Meanwhile, former Chief of the General Staff, Yury Baluevsky, did not rule out that withdrawal of Russia from the treaty on the liquidation of medium-range and smaller range missiles might be one of the response measures to deployment of AMD elements in Europe. Former Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov directly mentioned a possibility of deploying a missile base near Kaliningrad. However, there is nothing like this yet. Meanwhile, experts analyze the current situation.
Thus, president of the institute of strategic evaluations, Alexander Konovalov, evaluates the degree of hazard of the US AMD in Europe and says that “we overestimate the threat. There is even the presumption that it is necessary for someone that we look offended and a country that is not taken into account.” Konovalov explains that citizens of Russia have a vague notion about the need for the US AMD systems in Europe. According to him, ten interceptor missiles that the US plans to deploy in Poland and the target indication radar to be deployed in the Czech Republic are intended for the interception of missiles at the middle part of the trajectory, that is in outer space. Thus, Konovalov emphasizes that these interceptor missiles cannot intercept Russian ballistic missiles at the initial stage of their flight. He adds, “if it is necessary to intercept Russian missiles it is necessary to place interceptor missiles on Alaska and in Canada.” According to the expert, the main threat for Russia comes not from the US and NATO but from southern neighbors including China, Iran, Israel and Pakistan. Along with this, Konovalov is concerned about the fact that the infrastructure of the US will appear near the Russian borders, “this infrastructure can develop and may some time start posing a hazard to us.”
Proposing a solution for the problem of the radar deployment in the Czech Republic, Konovalov offered a continuation of negotiations with Europe on the establishment of a common European AMD system. Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, former director of the fourth central research institute of the Defense Ministry specializing in research in the field of space and missile technology and strategic armament, made similar proposals too.
Commenting on the proposals regarding the possible measures for counteraction to the plans of deployment of the strategic US AMD near the borders of Russia, Dvorkin said, “the most sensible option would be achieving a compromise with the US and joint development and deployment of an AMD system protecting Russia, Europe and America. This is the optimal option because all the rest are no good.”
Dvorkin stressed, “any military measures aimed at the destruction of objects of the US AMD in Europe and pointless from the military standpoint. They may have importance only from the political standpoint of pressuring the Czech Republic and Poland.” According to the expert, because Russia is not going to be the first to start a war, it is pointless to stake at the destruction of the interceptor missiles, for example, by tactical theater missiles Iskander proposed by some experts. He adds, “even if Iskander systems are deployed in the Kaliningrad Region, this measure will hardly be efficient. In case of beginning of a war against us, these systems will be destroyed first of all because they are located too closely.”
Dvorkin presumes, “the only measure that can be taken is sending strategic bombers on patrolling. In any case, the absence of information about the plans of the US and about what they are going to do further will pose the biggest hazard.” According to Dvorkin, attempts to withdraw from the treaty on reduction of short-range and medium-range missiles may lead to worsening of relations with Europe.
He explains, “in this case, all European countries up to Vatican will request placement of interceptor missiles on their territory.” It is necessary to seek a compromise and, according to the expert, the first certain step on the path towards its achievement may be an agreement according to which the radar in the Czech Republic is mechanically limited from turns in the sector directed at Russia. According to Dvorkin, “this is a quite controllable measure.” He emphasizes, “after that it is possible to agree with joint use of the radars in Gabala and Armavir together with the data exchange center not as an alternative but as joint measures to make them elements of one global AMD.” According to the expert, the mere fact of the AMD objects deployment in the Czech Republic and Poland should not worry Russia seriously. He explains, “we have not been afraid that there will be 100 such interceptor missiles in the US in the framework of the AMD treaty of 1972. Now this somehow frightens us, although these interceptor missiles will be able to intercept only one charge in case of one salvo, not more.”
Thus, the threat from deployment of the US AMD elements in Europe is seriously exaggerated. Of course, Moscow defends its national interests. And it feels offended because armament buildup is going on in the former Warsaw Pact countries. In any case, of course, it cannot hinder this process. So, it turns out that our politicians and experts have different evaluations of the degree of threat from the deployment of US AMD elements in Europe. So far, Russia has not worked out clear measures for interaction to this process.