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Russia Optimistic About Missile Shield

December 15th, 2010

At last month’s NATO summit, the former Soviet Union tentatively agreed to cooperate with NATO in expanding missile defense in Europe. Members approved the proposal to expand and link missile defense shield systems in the U.S. and Europe to protect against long-range missile attacks.

Because of rogue countries like Iran and North Korea, intent on building missiles, transitioning our relationship with Russia away from a strategy based on retaliation toward one based on defense is key. Ria Novosti reports that Russia’s NATO envoy is optimistic about his country working with the U.S. on missile shields in Europe. Dmitry Rogozin said Russia looked forward to a “real exchange of data and evaluations.”

Janusz Bugajski, director of the New European Democracies Project, doesn’t mince words when it comes to how he feels about current agreements between Russia and the U.S. In the Washington Times, he asserts that Dmitry Medevedev blackmailed NATO into acquiescing.

For the Kremlin, NATO remains a threat not because it destabilizes Russia but because it thwarts its imperial aspirations. President Dmitry Medvedev blackmails the alliance by asserting that NATO’s eastward growth would terminate all collaboration with the West. Despite lofty declarations at the recent Lisbon Summit, NATO growth has been stymied indefinitely along Poland’s eastern border.

Moscow also seeks veto powers over troop deployments among new NATO members. It wants NATO to commit to stationing a maximum of 3,000 soldiers; if reinforcements were needed during a crisis, NATO would require Russia’s consent. In effect, the alliance would depend on Moscow’s permission to intervene if Russia invaded a NATO member.

Moscow also has been invited to participate in NATO’s missile-defense program and exploits that opportunity to divide the continent. Mr. Medvedev has proposed that Europe be split into two sectors of “military responsibility” to protect it from missile attack – one controlled by NATO, the other by Russia, encompassing all ex-Soviet states. In this context, cooperation over Afghanistan, Iran and nuclear proliferation remains contingent upon Western strategic concessions acknowledging Russia’s zone of influence across Eurasia.

Although Russia agreed to cooperate with NATO, everything seems to hinge on whether START is ratified. The treaty limits strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads and delivery vehicles to 800. But for the Republicans retaking the U.S. House of Representatives, START might have been ratified by now. As it stands, passage this Congress is unlikely.

NATO, Russia, and START

November 23rd, 2010

Obama and Medvedev

Not only has NATO agreed to expand missile defense in Europe, the former Soviet Union has agreed to cooperate. Last Friday at the NATO summit, members approved the proposal to expand and link missile defense shield systems in the U.S. and Europe to protect against long-range missile attacks from rogue states like Iran.

NATO’s secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen sought to expand missile defense in Europe and made it clear that he wanted Russia’s cooperation in the effort. He got it, but at what cost? Although Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev agreed to cooperate, he said his country’s cooperation must be a “a full-fledged strategic partnership between Russia and NATO…Otherwise, it’s a no-go. Everybody’s clear that the missile defense system will be useful only when it is universal. I’ll be blunt with you, we need to sort it out.” (Source)

In other words, Russia’s cooperation is contingent on concessions NATO’s willing to make.

NATO also sought Turkey’s cooperation, but the country said it would not agree to the expansion if reference to Iran was explicit. To accommodate Turkey, Iran will not be named in the agreement.

During the summit, President Barack Obama took the opportunity to stress the importance of ratifying START, which calls for warhead and launcher reductions. No doubt ratification would please Russia, but Republican senators have   questions about START. In his weekly address, the president made reference to these senators.

“Over the last several months, several questions have been asked about New START, and we have answered every single one. Some have asked whether it will limit our missile defense – it will not. Some, including Senator Jon Kyl, have asked that we modernize our nuclear infrastructure for the 21st century – we are doing so, and plan to invest at least $85 billion in that effort over the next ten years – a significant increase from the Bush Administration.

“Finally, some make no argument against the Treaty – they just ask for more time. But remember this: it has already been 11 months since we’ve had inspectors in Russia, and every day that goes by without ratification is a day that we lose confidence in our understanding of Russia’s nuclear weapons. If the Senate doesn’t act this year – after six months, 18 hearings, and nearly a thousand questions answered – it would have to start over from scratch in January.”

The president adds that it would be a “dangerous gamble” to delay ratifying the treaty, but senators would be well advised to wait until the administration addresses their concerns.

The Heritage Foundation’s Michaela Bendikova and Conn Carroll also blogged about START this week.

Top 10 Reasons Not to Trust Russia

August 13th, 2010

Cross-posted at Heritage.org:

The current regime in Russia has a terrible record as a reliable partner, yet President Obama wants the nuclear treaty he negotiated with the Kremlin fast-tracked for Senate approval. That makes no sense. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. A Long History of Arms Control Violations: Russia repeatedly violated the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) all the way to its expiration in December 2009, as clearly stated in 2005 and 2010 State Department compliance reports. Specifically, Russia tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile with Multiple Individually Targeted Re-entry Vehicles (warheads) while START was in force. Such activities, however, were explicitly banned.

2. The West Is Still Their #1 Threat: Russia regards the U.S. and NATO as its principal adversaries and configures its forces for large-scale conventional theater operations with them. The recent discovery of the Russian spy network inside the U.S. and their celebration upon return to Russia, courtesy of President Obama, indicates that Russia is set in a Cold War mentality.

3. Helping Iran and North Korea: According to U.S. intelligence, Russia violated nonproliferation agreements by providing ballistic missile technology to Iran and North Korea, which have continually threatened America and its allies.

4. Still Building a Nuclear Arsenal: Nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, Russia still designs, builds, and modernizes nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Russia’s new military doctrine maintains a low threshold for nuclear first strikes. In fact, Moscow plans to use tactical nuclear weapons in Europe if ever confronted with a conventional threat. In 2009, Russia conducted a military exercise that simulated a nuclear attack on Poland.

5. Not in Compliance on Other Treaties: The U.S. believes Russia to be in non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. In 2009, the Strategic Posture Commission told Congress: “Russia is no longer in compliance with its PNI [Presidential Nuclear Initiatives] commitments.” Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons arsenal may be 10 times larger than that of the U.S.

6. No Regard for Georgia Independence: Russia has repeatedly broken its promises to withdraw military forces from Georgia and Moldova. When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, it rewrote the rules of post–World War II European security. It repudiated the Helsinki Pact of 1975, which recognized the security of European borders, and violated the sovereignty of a NATO aspirant and member of the Council of Europe.

7. Responds Offensively to Defensive Measures: In response to U.S. plans for a defensive missile shield in Europe to protect against Iranian missile threats, Moscow has repeatedly threatened to deploy Iskander short-range and nuclear-capable missiles to target U.S. allies in Eastern Europe. Reports show that the Baltic Fleet is armed with nuclear weapons that can be used against Europe.

8. Ties to Terrorist Organizations: Russia cultivates ties with terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah and provides military and diplomatic support for anti-American “rogue states” such as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. Russia voted with the U.S. at the U.N. Security Council to pass sanctions on Iran—but only after working hard to water them down to practically nothing.

9. Natural Gas as a Political Weapon: The Kremlin uses its neighbors and Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas as a foreign policy tool to pressure states. In 2009, Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and to Europe by extension, causing the International Energy Agency to deem them an unreliable supplier.

10. An Authoritarian Regime: The current model of leadership under President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has become increasingly authoritarian. Despite numerous commitments under international law, the government has tightened controls on political life, civil society, and the media. Disruption of political opposition’s activities, restricting access to state-controlled TV, human right violations (such as the beating of demonstrators who “support” the Russian constitution), murder of journalists and anti-corruption activists, disappearance and torture, abuse of the legal system for monetary and political gain—all illustrate this negative trend.

Medvedev: Russia Could Withdraw From Treaty

April 13th, 2010

Last week we wrote about Russia’s veiled threat to withdraw from START if the U.S. continues to build up its missile defense plans in Europe. On Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who said if the U.S. does so, “this would be certainly the reason to have a review of that agreement.”

“Review of that agreement” is a euphemism for “We’ll renege if you don’t do what we say.” Medvedev also said that his country will not agree to tougher sanctions against Iran, even as Iran continues to build its nuclear capability and defy the U.N. Medvedev said sanctions “should not lead to humanitarian catastrophe, where the whole Iranian community would start to hate the whole world.”

Because it’s very important that Iran not hate us. Watch the video below:

U.S. and Russia Sign START

April 8th, 2010

Obama and Medvedev

Today President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which the Christian Science Monitor says represents the “first major strategic accord between the former superpowers since the end of the cold war.”

The two countries reached an agreement last week, but earlier this week, sources reported that the treaty contained an opt-out clause, which Russia hinted it will use if the U.S. continues to build and strengthen missile defense in Europe.

According to Bloomberg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said if “the U.S.’s build-up of its missile defense strategic potential in numbers and quality begins to considerably affect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces,” Russia will back out of the treaty. He added that his country and the U.S. “should begin to jointly analyze threats and only after we’ve done this can we reach a common understanding of these threats…This would enable us to make decisions on what steps we need to take, including what facilities to build and where.”

Dmitry Suslov, an expert with the Council on Foreign and Defense Policies, told the Monitor that his country “is laying down the message that this new treaty is fine, but we should not interpret this as a new era in relations. The strategic picture is changing in ways that Russia is not completely comfortable with, and we need to keep our options open.”

Under the new START, Russia and the U.S. agreed to reduce long-range missiles by 30 percent. Russia and the U.S. signed the previous treaty in 1991. Both countries reduced nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600. Eleven years later, the Moscow Treaty, a follow-up to START, required warhead reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200.

(ISIFA Photo)

Russia Seeks Missile Defense Link Clause

March 23rd, 2010


Negotiations between Russia and the U.S. to renew the START treaty are ongoing. Russia wants to link offensive and defensive systems. The AP reported that President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama agreed to the link, but negotiations are stalled over the language.

It’s no surprise that Russia also wants access to our missile defense strategy in Eastern and Central Europe. In fact, Russia believes it got the short end of the deal in the earlier treaty. “If the Americans continue to expand their missile defenses, they will certainly target our nuclear capability and in this case the balance of forces will shift in favor of the United States,” General Nikolai Makarov said. (Source)

Riki Ellison of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance believes there should be no missile defense link in the new treaty.

“Giving up missile defense protection of the U.S., Europe or any place we have troops and allies, in exchange for a reduction of arms with Russia is unfair, unsafe and would leave us defenseless against the current threats from Iran and North Korea as well as other future threats,” he said in a 33-minutes blog interview last week.

START Update

March 18th, 2010

Though it expired last December, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) has yet to be renewed. Russia and the U.S. say the renewal could be finalized by next month.

A Pentagon official recently told Business Week that both sides are making progress. “The differences have narrowed substantially over the last week or so,” principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy James Miller said. “I think it is realistic to think now about concluding a treaty within the next several weeks. It does not mean that that’s going to be done.”

Miller testified before a House Armed Services subcommittee and said there were “a thousand catches” in START negotiations. The reason is obvious.

Russia is not happy with our missile defense plans to protect countries in Eastern and Central Europe against Iran, and wants access to our missile defense strategy. Based on these and other factors, the former Soviet Union and blames the U.S. for stalled negotiations. One of Russia’s sticking points to START renewal was linking defensive and offensive weapons. Both sides have agreed to the link.

Russia wants as many concessions as it can get. In fact, it’s not a stretch to believe Russia is holding back on supporting tougher sanctions against Iran until the U.S. drops plans to deploy missile shields anywhere in Eastern and Central Europe, despite our assurances that the shields are not a threat to Russia.

Under the old START, signed by Russia and the U.S. in 1991, both countries agreed to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600. Eleven years later, the Moscow Treaty, a follow-up to START, required warhead reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200. Medvedev and Obama reportedly agreed to reduce deployed warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675.

START Renewal By April?

March 10th, 2010

Obama and Medvedev

Last week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country and the U.S. were “close to an agreement” on renewing START and hoped negotiations would be wrapped up soon.

This week, the Associated Press reported that a renewal could be finalized by next month. Russia wants access to our missile defense strategy and blames the U.S. for stalled negotiations. Displeased by our Bush-era plans to deploy missile shields to Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia believed the U.S. was capitulating when President Barack Obama dropped those plans. But Russia’s ire has been rekindled. The Obama administration intends to deploy missiles to Poland capable of intercepting shorter range weapons.

One of Russia’s sticking points to START renewal was linking defensive and offensive weapons. Both sides have agreed to the link.

Under the old treaty, signed by Russia and the U.S. in 1991, both countries agreed to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600. Eleven years later, the Moscow Treaty, a follow-up to START, required warhead reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200. Medvedev and Obama reportedly agreed to reduce deployed warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675.

Dmitry Medvedev on START Negotiations

March 2nd, 2010


Yesterday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country and the U.S. are “close to an agreement” on renewing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and that he hopes negotiations will be wrapped up “in the very near future.” (Source)

Under the treaty, signed by Russia and the U.S. in 1991, both countries agreed to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600. Eleven years later, the Moscow Treaty, a follow-up to START, required warhead reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200. According to Reuters, Medvedev and President Barack Obama have stipulated in present negotiations to a reduction of deployed warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675.

Russia has blamed stalled negotiations on U.S. plans to deploy missile shields to Eastern and Central Europe. Obama dropped Bush-era missile defense agreements in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of what he considers a more pressing concern: Iran’s short- and medium-range missiles. In January, Poland’s defense minister revealed U.S. plans to deploy Patriot missiles to Poland near the Russian border. In response, Russia said it would beef up its Baltic fleet. Last month, Romania agreed to host missile interceptors (Standard Missile 3).

Our intent is to help these countries defend against Iran, but Russia believes otherwise. After Romania announced the agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. broke its promise to keep the Kremlin abreast of its missile defense developments in the region, and Russian NATO representative Dmitri Rogozin asked, “How can we stay calm when alien military infrastructure, U.S. military infrastructure, has come to the Black Sea area?”

We’re not as hopeful as Dmitry Medvedev when it comes to renewing START. Russia will continue stalling in an attempt to pressure the U.S. to scale back or even cancel plans to deploy missile defense shields to Eastern and Central Europe.

NATO and Russia to Collaborate on Missile Defense?

December 8th, 2009

Medvedev

NATO may collaborate with Russia on missile defense, a year after criticizing the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Georgia. Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s NATO envoy, said he hopes the renewed ties will pave the way for a new Euro-Atlantic security treaty in the joint NATO-Russia Council. (Source)

Statement from NATO foreign ministers: “We continue to support increased cooperation between NATO and Russia on missile defense, including maximum transparency and reciprocal confidence-building measures. We reaffirm the alliance’s readiness to explore the potential for linking the United States, NATO and Russian missile defense systems at an appropriate time.” (Source)

In related news, the U.S. and Russia have agreed to extend the deadline to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which was set to expire December 5. (Source)

Under the treaty, signed by Russia and the U.S. in 1991, both countries agreed to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600. Eleven years later, the Moscow Treaty, a follow-up to START, required warhead reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200.

Last month, Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev said he believed his country and the U.S. would reach an agreement by the deadline.