On his trip to Europe, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has found not everyone is as open as Warsaw to Washington’s plans for a European missile shield. Moscow’s hostility is such that it has threatened to pull out of a 1987 nuclear treaty with the US, prompting fears of new Cold War situation and arms race.
Gates says it is a misunderstanding: “It was not so much a matter of controversy but rather a lack of clear understanding of what some of the capabilities of our systems are. And to try and alleviate that uncertainty on the part of the Russians I invited them to Alaska to see our interceptors”.
But the Russians turned down that invitation during the course of a meeting with the Defence Secretary in Moscow. They maintain there is no proven need for the missile system.
Russian Chief of Staff Yuri Baluyevsky went even further, warning it could destabilise the situation in Europe: “If we see that these facilities pose a threat to Russia’s security, then they will be listed as targets in our military planning. Whether strategic, nuclear or otherwise, that’s a technical question.”
Dubbed the “son of Star Wars”, Washington’s plans for 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, are a defence against what it perceives as a potential threat from Iran and North Korea.