Luke Harding / The Guardian & SatNews.com – 2007-04-10 23:43:51
Russia Threatening New Cold War over Missile Defence
Kremlin Accuses US of Deception on
East European Interceptor Bases
Luke Harding / The Guardian
MOSCOW (April 11, 2007) — Russia is preparing its own military response to the US’s controversial plans to build a new missile defence system in eastern Europe, according to Kremlin officials, in a move likely to increase fears of a cold war-style arms race.
The Kremlin is considering active counter-measures in response to Washington’s decision to base interceptor missiles and radar installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, a move Russia says will change “the world’s strategic stability”.
The Kremlin has not publicly spelt out its plans. But defence experts said its response is likely to include upgrading its nuclear missile arsenal so that it is harder to shoot down, putting more missiles on mobile launchers, and moving its fleet of nuclear submarines to the north pole, where they are virtually undetectable.
Russia could also bring the new US silos within the range of its Iskander missiles launched potentially from the nearby Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, they add.
In an interview with the Guardian, the Kremlin’s chief spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Moscow felt betrayed by the Pentagon’s move. “We were extremely concerned and disappointed. We were never informed in advance about these plans. It brings tremendous change to the strategic balance in Europe, and to the world’s strategic stability.”
He added: “We feel ourselves deceived. Potentially we will have to create alternatives to this but with low cost and higher efficiency.” Any response would be within “existing technologies”, he said. As well as military counter-measures, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, also wanted “dialogue” and “negotiations”, he added.
The Bush administration says the bases are designed to shoot down rogue missiles fired by Iran or North Korea. Its proposed system would be helpless against Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal, it says.
But this claim has been greeted with widespread incredulity, not just in Russia but also among some of the US’s nervous Nato allies. They include Germany, where the Social Democrat leader, Kurt Beck, warned last month that the US and Russia were on the brink of another arms race “on European soil”.
Defence experts say there is little doubt that the real target of the shield is Russia. “The geography of the deployment doesn’t give any doubt the main targets are Russian and Chinese nuclear forces,” General Vladimir Belous, Russia’s leading expert on anti-ballistic weaponry, told the Guardian. “The US bases represent a real threat to our strategic nuclear forces.”
The threat of a new arms race comes at a time when relations between Russia and the US are at their worst for a decade. In February Mr Putin accused the Bush administration during a speech in Munich of seeking a “world of one master, one sovereign”. On Friday Russia’s duma, or lower house or parliament, warned that the US’s plans could ignite a second cold war. “Such decisions, which are useless in terms of preventing potential or imaginary threats from countries of the middle and far-east, are already bringing about a new split in Europe and unleashing another arms race,” the declaration – passed unanimously by Russian MPs – said.
The same day Russia ruled out cooperating with the US over the shield. “Despite certain signals received in recent days from the US side … I see no political foundation for it,” said Sergei Ryabkov, a foreign ministry spokesman. Moscow now had little choice but to take the bases “into account in our strategic planning”, he said.
Analysts said there was a common feeling in Russia that the US had reneged on an agreement after the collapse of the Soviet Union to abandon cold war politics. “Cold war thinking has prevailed, especially on the western side,” Yevgeny Myasnikov, a senior research scientist at Moscow’s Centre for Arms Control, told the Guardian. “Russia has been deeply disappointed by what has happened after 1991. Nato started to expand, and the US started to think it had won the cold war. We had hoped for a partnership. But it didn’t happen.”
US Denies Destroying Russian Satellite
WASHINGTON DC (April 6, 2007) —The Pentagon has dismissed as not credible reports from Russia saying the US recently destroyed a small Russian civilian satellite using an ASAT (anti-satellite) weapon, ostensibly a powerful military laser.
Press reports from Moscow the other day quoted anonymous Russian experts as claiming a research probe named Universitetsky or Tatiana “fell victim to US experiments in ray influence on spacecraft.” The unnamed experts based this conclusion on the timing of the satellite’s failure. The satellite stopped functioning March 7, and the Russian experts claimed the US conducted a military experiment, probably a laser shot, at about the same time.
They noted that Universitetsky suddenly stopped broadcasting and there was no evidence to indicate the spacecraft had broken up in orbit. Other Russian experts believe a US missile might have struck the satellite as the Pentagon was holding a missile test on the same day.
Universitetsky was a small spacecraft built and launched for Moscow State University to monitor space radiation. It was launched January 2005 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
“There’s no way this is a credible story,” US Strategic Command spokesman James Graybeal was quoted as saying by US media in reaction to the satellite’s alleged destruction by a US laser weapon.
The Pentagon dismissed allegations the Russian probe had been killed by one of its ASAT missiles, saying its only recorded test launch was held March 5 and was not aimed at any satellites. US Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick Lehner clarified that the missile used during this test followed a ballistic trajectory and splashed into the Pacific Ocean without hitting any objects along the way.
This latest brouhaha over satellite kills follows last January’s heavily publicized destruction by China of one of its old meteorological satellites using a ground launched ASAT missile. It was China’s first success in three attempts to destroy an orbiting target using a kinetic kill weapon.
Reacting to the furor in the West caused by this episode, Russian President Vladimir Putin said US plans for space-based weapons were the reason behind the Chinese ASAT test. Putin warned the US on the dangers of militarizing space noting, “China was not the first country to conduct such a test,” an obvious reference to the US, which conducted the world’s first ASAT test in the 1980s. The US has had the capability to shoot down satellites since the 1980s.
“The first such test was conducted back in the late 1980s and we also hear it today about the US military circles considering plans of militarization of space. We must not let the genie out of the bottle,” Putin said.
Military analysts see the Chnese ASAT test as an indirect threat to US defense systems by raising the possibility that US spy satellites could be shot down. In October 2006, President Bush signed an order asserting the US’ right to deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes. Bush also advoctes an ambitious program of space-based missile defense and the Pentagon is working on missiles, ground lasers and other technology to destroy enemy satellites.
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