Voice of Russia
March 23, 2012
Russia’s nuclear forces in danger?
Interview with Rick Rozoff
What do you think will be some of the evidence that Ministry of Defense will present very soon proving the ABM-4 shield as a danger to Russia’s nuclear forces?
You are referring of course to the statement by Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov about a conference that will be held in Moscow in early May. One can speculate about what evidence the Russian Defense Ministry and the government as a whole are prepared to present, but if we are to trust an account run in today’s Ros Business Consulting quoting Kommersant, the newspaper, there is some concern that the velocity of the Standard Missile 3s, SM-3’s, that the U.S. intends to deploy in Romania and Poland as well as their ship-based equivalents, should that velocity be intensified, that in the words of the Russian daily the U.S.-NATO missile system could threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear potential.
There is another component of that, incidentally, which is the Prompt Global Strike program, designed to include intercontinental ballistic missiles which the U.S. states will be equipped with non-nuclear warheads, with conventional warheads.
Of course, it’s taking the U.S.’s word on that…Nevertheless, this is a question of trust, whether a country like Russia and China takes the word of the United States that the ICBM heading towards them or in the general direction of their country is or is not equipped with a nuclear warhead, and this has been a consistent pattern on behalf of the Pentagon and the White House, on the one hand, and NATO headquarters and Brussels, on the other, or jointly rather, where they are loathe to divulge any meaningful details and they are certainly not willing to give any assurances, which would include for example the possibility of Russia inspecting both the radar and missile sites that have been installed and will be installed in Southeastern Europe, in Turkey, as well as throughout Eastern Europe.
We have to keep in mind by the way that what we are talking about with the U.S. system is something that in the autumn of 2009, the incoming, at that time, Obama administration referred to as the European Phased Adaptive Approach. That is, it’s a four-pronged process of introducing increasingly larger and more sophisticated missile and radar deployments in the area of the Baltic Sea, in Poland, in the area of the Black Sea, in Romania, and recently what’s referred to as a Forward-Based X-Band Transportable Missile Radar facility in Turkey, which is now operational.
And this is the U.S. component of, the major component of, the Phased Adaptive Approach. However, at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal in November of 2010 NATO endorsed the U.S. plan and is integrating it with two other NATO programs, one of which is called the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense and the other NATO program goes by the acronym of MEADS, Medium Extended Air Defence System, which is a joint project of the United States, Germany and Italy.
Incidentally, the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence system achieved interim operational capability last November, where there was for the first time a live-fire exercise of a missile for that purpose. So what we are looking at is an increasingly broad, stratified, sophisticated anti-ballistic missile system, which includes an intensification of what are referred to as Aegis class U.S. warships, which carry the sea-based version of the Standard Missile-3. Just last week the Netherlands announced it’s going to upgrade four frigates for radar purposes for the U.S.-NATO missile system.
What can you tell our listeners about the upgrades?
There are constant upgrades that aren’t always publicly acknowledged. For example, in May of 2010 the opening salvo of the U.S. interceptor missile system in Europe was fired when the U.S. deployed a Patriot missile battery in the Polish city of Morag on the Baltic Sea, which is only some 40 miles from Russian territory, from the Kaliningrad district, and this is the newest and most sophisticated longest-range version of the Patriot, it’s referred to as Patriot Advanced Capability-3, but there is also an enhancement, what’s called Missile Segment Enhancement, that permits it an even greater distance.
And I believe that what Russia fears is the Standard Missile-3, which has been used up until now strictly on ships, will be, when they are based on land in Romania and Poland and who knows where else after that, also enhanced in such a manner as to give them greater velocity and greater range.
The other thing Russia has to be worried about is that more advanced interceptor missiles could follow the SM-3’s. I’m thinking particularly of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, the acronym is THAAD, that can intercept not only short- and medium-, but intermediate-range missiles, there is actually a distinction between medium and intermediate, and then behind that what the George W. Bush administration had planned to install in Poland, 10 Ground-Based Midcourse weapons, which can intercept missiles in space. So, U.S. and NATO assurances having proved less than trustworthy in the past, there is no reason to believe that the U.S. may not exceed its announced goal, the four-phase European Phased Adaptive Approach, and institute in its place, or in addition to that, more advanced weapons like THAAD and Ground-Based Midcourse weapons.
Recently Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov offered NATO the Vostochny airport in Uliyanovsk. Have you heard about this?
I have no idea what Russian national interests Mr. Lavrov is defending. We have to keep in mind that referring to NATO and the Pentagon as partners, just this week as a matter of fact there’s an unprecedented NATO war game going on in the Arctic with 16,000 troops, and that of course could only be aimed against Russia, and simultaneously 300 U.S. Marines are in Georgia conducting the second of what have now become annual joint military exercises called Agile Spirit, so that you have the southern border of Russia and the northwestern border of Russia with U.S. and NATO military exercises going on.
To accommodate NATO in any manner by setting up a transit center in Ulyanovsk to ease their transition out of Afghanistan seems to me perhaps not the most well-advised move. I believe that to allow NATO and U.S. cargo planes to fly over Russian territory with whatever assurances in that case that they don’t carry surveillance equipment is something I would want to look into very closely before I permitted it to occur, were I an official of the Russian government.