Moscow’s threat to launch preemptive strikes in response to a U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Eastern Europe was met with dismissive repudiation by the alliance’s top military chief on Friday.
Russia’s top military officer threatened to carry out a preemptive strike if Washington goes ahead with its plan to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. Washington claims its purpose would be to protect from any Iranian missile threat. But Moscow believes it would undermine their nuclear deterrent.
“These statements are unjustified,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Berlin after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Our missile defence system is not technically designed to threaten Russia in any way and we have provided that information to the Russians. Politically, we don’t have any intention to attack Russia,” he added.
As a compromise, Moscow has proposed running the missile shield jointly with NATO, but the alliance has rejected that proposal. Russian officials have described the diplomatic negotiations with the U.S.-led effort a “dead end.”
U.S. Senator John McCain complained that Russia is using this issue as an “excuse to have a military buildup in this part of the world, which is at peace, is really an egregious example of what might be even viewed as paranoia on the part of Vladimir Putin.”
Maybe, but paranoia also describes Washington’s supposed purpose behind the missile defense shield. Iran’s military capacity is minimal compared to America’s and most of Europe’s and the notion that a threat from the weak, isolated Iran calls for such a build-up in Eastern Europe is not rational (unless he’s doing it for purely political reasons).
More likely, Putin is justified in his paranoia, and the real reason for Washington’s plan is to weaken Russia’s defenses and maintain military hegemony over the region. That the Obama administration would risk potential war for the scheme is reckless indeed.