How should Russia respond to American antimissile bases in Europe?
Russia’s leading experts in strategic arms development are calling on the government to respond to America’s deployment of national missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic with more intensive development of Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces.
Russia’s leading experts in strategic arms development are calling on the government to respond to America’s deployment of national missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic with more intensive development of Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces. In their view, this is the only way for Moscow to safeguard itself against political pressure in future.
The Americans are planning to deploy silo-based interceptor missiles on the territory of Poland and the Czech Republic; preliminary agreements have already been reached with those governments.
“The missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic will be directed against Russia and China,” says Major-General Vladimir Belous (retired), senior research fellow at the Global Economy and International Relations Institute (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences. “By approaching Russia’s borders, the Americans are seeking to achieve their main objective: intercepting our strategic missiles at the early stage of their trajectory, when they are most vulnerable.”
Given that there isn’t even a hypothetical possibility of a large-scale military conflict between Russia and the United States or NATO, the deployment of American missile defense bases poses a threat to Moscow – if only because if America decides to intercept Iranian or North Korean missiles, such interceptions could happen over Russian territory, with all the environmental and economic consequences this entails. Alexander Pikayev, head of the Disarmament and Conflict Regulation Department at IMEMO, maintains that in the modern world, one country cannot ensure its own security at the expense of other countries. The deployment of these interceptor missiles will inevitably cause the emergence of plans to counter them – in Europe and elsewhere.
“The human race has entered into an uncompromising battle over natural resources – a battle where anything goes,” says Petr Belov from the Geopolitical Studies Academy. “As the rest of the world grows poorer, Russia will come under increasing pressure as a storehouse of natural resources.”
Moscow can start building up its nuclear muscles – especially since today’s Russia has the financial and intellectual resources to do so. We can give our missiles multiple warheads, making them harder to intercept, and relocate missile silos from the western parts of Russia to the Urals or Siberia, out of reach of the American missile defense components in Eastern Europe. Or we could start deploying our own interceptors opposite the ones in Poland or the Czech Republic.
Pikayev notes: “According to our military doctrine, Russia reserves the right to deliver preventive strikes at any targets that pose a threat to us, with tactical nuclear weapons being an option in such strikes.”
Thus, according to the experts, any Eastern European countries that allow American antimissile sites on their territories could pay a very high price for that political step.