America’s Cycles of Change

US Missile Defenses in Eastern Europe Attract Russian Attack Instead of Deterring It

Wed, 25 May 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin as usual wasted no time in reacting to what he saw as a new Western strategic threat against his country.

The same day that the United States activated a land-based Aegis anti-missile radar and interceptor base in Romania – fittingly, on Friday, May 13 – Putin vowed to increase and prioritize military spending to ensure it could be knocked out.

The previous day another Aegis base was activated in Poland, at the other end of the European continent. Together they cost the US taxpayer $800 million.

Ostensibly, the stated purpose of both bases is to defend Europe against any possible attack by intermediate-range nuclear missiles fired by Iran.

However, since the Obama administration itself concluded its much publicized P5 +1Nuclear Agreement with Tehran in July 2015, the Iranians have agreed scrap their nuclear bomb-building program.

Since the Obama administration takes Iranian assurances at face value, it consequently has no justification any more for activating the two Aegis bases. Yet it has done so anyway.

Russian critics are not surprised. They argue that the real purpose of the two bases all along was to give US-controlled advanced radars close-up views of Russia’s own launching sites in order to degrade the deterrent capability of Moscow’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) arsenal.

Putin confirmed this thinking in remarks to Russian military officials in Sochi. “This is not a defense system. This is part of the US nuclear strategic potential brought onto a periphery. In this case, Eastern Europe is such a periphery,” he said. “…Now, as these elements of ballistic missile defense are deployed, we are forced to think how to neutralize emerging threats to the Russian Federation.”

Unlike the farcical Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) ordered by President George W. Bush and his defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Aegis interceptors actually work.

However, they are vastly more expensive to build and deploy than the missiles they can destroy, so it is quite easy and cost effective to overwhelm such defenses simply by targeting a lot more accurate and cheap missiles on to their launching sites. And that is what the Russians have, in effect, said they are going to do.

Once again a NATO, Obama and US hawk military deployment has put American people and their allies at vastly greater risk while claiming to defend them.