The Heritage Foundation
Protecting America in the New Missile Age


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.