In February, President Obama sent a secret letter to Russian President Medvedev that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons.
The original plan was to build a high-tech radar facility in the Czech Republic and deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland to deter Iran in case it developed a nuclear warhead to fit atop its long-range missiles. But Mr. Obama has been lukewarm on missile defense, saying he supports it only if it can be proved technically effective and affordable. Or maybe it’s because the day after Obama’s election, Mr. Medvedev threatened to point missiles at Europe if the system proceeded.
Will Obama surrender to Russia over missile defence?
By Nile Gardiner – The Telegraph
Reports in the Polish media indicate that the Obama administration is about to abandon its plans for “third site” missile defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. If enacted, this would represent a huge turnaround in American strategic thinking on a global missile defence system, and a massive betrayal of two key US allies in eastern and central Europe. Such a move would significantly weaken America’s ability to combat the growing threat posed by Iran’s ballistic missile program, and would hand a major propaganda victory to the Russians.
This shift in US policy is intricately linked to a naïve deal struck between Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in July in Moscow, where the two leaders established a framework to reduce their nukes by a third over the next seven years. The deal, expected to be concluded in December, also significantly cuts both sides’ nuclear delivery systems, such as long range bombers, to create a more level playing field (the US currently has superiority in this area). The whole agreement works to the advantage of the Russians, with their declining strategic conventional weapons capability and aging and deteriorating nuclear weapons stockpile.
Obama has made progress towards a “nuclear free world” a centerpiece of his presidency, and is clearly willing to sacrifice US interests, including its allies in Europe, on the altar of political vanity. Moscow has made it abundantly clear that any steps towards nuclear disarmament have to involve the abandonment of missile defence installations in what Russia considers its own backyard – and that includes former Soviet satellites that are now members of the European Union.
If the Obama administration drops the planned third site installations (due to be deployed by 2013), it would represent an appalling surrender to Russian demands, and the shameful of appeasement of an increasingly aggressive regime that is openly flexing its muscle in an effort to intimidate ex-members of the Warsaw Pact. It would send a clear message to America’s allies in Europe that Moscow’s bullying will be tolerated and even tacitly encouraged. It also sends a dangerous signal that the United States is unlikely to stand up to Russian demands that Georgia and Ukraine be barred from becoming full members of the NATO alliance.
In the coming days it is vital that those in Congress who believe that the transatlantic alliance still matters, and that U.S. agreements with its allies are worth the paper they are written on, speak out against any attempt to abandon plans for missile defense in Europe. The Poles and the Czechs know what it means to live under the boot of Russian domination. The third site issue is of huge symbolic importance, and if Moscow emerges the victor, with an effective veto over US policy in Europe, it would represent a massive surrender of American strategic influence and a betrayal of two of its closest friends in the region.