May 12 Romania held a ceremony of commissioning of ground missile complex “Aegis Ashore” at the Romanian Air Force Base Deveselu in the south of the country. This event does not remain without attention as that of the Russian military-political leadership and the leaders of many countries in the world.
The fact is that this is not a harmless defensive facility.
In accordance with the so-called “Phased Adaptive Approach” on the deployment of a global infrastructure of the U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) system on the territory of the airbase Deveselu American launchers Mk-41 of the combat and information management system “Aegis” having combat vessels equipped with interceptor missiles “Standard-3” 1B as well as radar AN/SPY-1 for their guidance on the target.
Today the “Standard-3” 1B interceptors are the most advanced part of the of the U.S. striking missile defense components. According to statements made by the U.S. experts, they are able to hit all types of medium-range and shorter-range ballistic and cruise missiles and, that is, up to a maximum of 5500 km. Russia does not have such missiles under the terms of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987.
It would seem that deployment of high-tech elements of the U.S. missile defense system should enhance the security of the inhabitants of southern and central Europe. But is it so?
The declared technical characteristics of “Standard-3” missiles allow to maintain “security” from hypothetical missile attack within a radius of more than 500 kilometers from the place of their deployment horizontally and about 250-300 km in altitude. Thus, the zone of their actions will engulf the territory of Romania, and a number of neighboring countries, including the European part of the Russian Federation. That is, these missiles can intercept ballistic and cruise missiles, not only over the territory of Romania, but also over the spaces of other states, including the mentioned part of Russia.
Even more dubious look is that the BMD base in Romania can withstand the strike of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles with extended range. Firstly, it is unlikely such a quite militarily weak country can be the target of the Russian nuclear warheads. Second, in case of necessity Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles equipped with modern technical means to penetrate the U.S. BMD (such option has been repeatedly mentioned by the Russian military commanders, as well as designers of its missiles) such U.S. BMD base can hardly protect even itself.
At the same time no one can ignore that applying alert status to the missile defense installation in Romania, and in the future, in 2018, to build the same infrastructure in Poland will laid a powerful destabilizing mine, respectively, under the Russian-Romanian and a Russian-Polish relations. Such relations will be soured for many decades. It is important to note that the “Start” button for the use of interceptor missiles from the territory of Romania and Poland will be in the hands of Washington, but not in the hands of Bucharest and Warsaw. This follows from the bilateral agreements between these sides on the deployment of the U.S. missile defense systems at Deveselu and Redzikowo.
Which in the end will be proper conclusions?
It is logical to assume that deploying of land and sea-based missile defense system in the European area, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific Americans are pursuing very different and distinctive goals. One of the versions, in our view quite convincingly, has been stated at a meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Defense of Russia and the Russian military-industrial complex by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
According to his statement, “launchers, which will be placed after the commissioning bases in Romania and Poland, can be easily used for emplacing medium-range and shorter-range missiles.” And they will solve the problem of an offensive nature.
It is necessary to note the presence of a large group with the U.S. Navy combat vessels equipped by the “Aegis” BMD system, which since 2011 constantly have “registered” at the seas and oceans surrounding Europe. It includes more than 30 warships equipped with such a system, each ship can have an average of 30-40 interceptor missiles “Standard-3”. Such U.S. choice eloquently explains a lot and puts everything in its proper place.
It looks a logical choice for accommodation in Romania universal naval launchers known as Mk-41. They without any modifications can accommodate a wide range of missiles, including the notorious land-based cruise missiles of “Tomahawk” class, prohibited by the Soviet-U.S. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty stamped in 1987. At the same time, in the case of accommodation of the offensive land-based cruise missiles in Romania under the guise of BMD missiles they can threaten almost the entire European part of Russia.
It should also be borne in mind that the U.S. and NATO missile defense assets in May 2012 have been operationally mixed with the nuclear and conventional arms in the “Chicago Triad”, hammered out at the NATO Summit held in the USA. Its existence has been again confirmed at the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, and it is very likely it might be reconfirmed at the next Summit of the Alliance in Warsaw next July. This “triangle” has already been put forward to the “front lines” with respect to Russia. As a forward-based weapons.
It becomes clear why the USA is going to “defend” the inhabitants of Bucharest, but not Rome, Athens, Berlin or London. The U.S. missile defense base in Romania is much closer to the Russian strategic nuclear forces’ sites than the territory of Italy, Germany, and even more so, with the UK.
No matter how cynical it sounds, but there can be another reason – in case of retaliation against the new U.S. anti-missile ‘shield’ in Romania other citizens can be victims, as the Americans used to say. It can be assumed that the United States spent almost in vain billions of dollars to keep afloat the economy of the not so developed the Romanian region. Could one find the world’s serious politicians that can believe it, the question is highly hypothetical. At the very least, Russian politicians and experts do not suffer such naivety.
Are the threats from the American BMD components in Europe critical to Russia? Apparently, now they are partly existing due to the presence of the combined “Chicago Triad”, which has striking offensive capabilities, supported by the U.S. strategy to deliver a first initial nuclear strike.
Thus, the emergence of the European continent and around the U.S. BMD facilities can be qualified as the third in a row the U.S. formidable global provocation against regional and global stability, when one considers that the first such provocation has started by Washington in 1962 by unfolding of the Cuban Missile Crisis and in 1979 by adopting by NATO leaders of the “double-track decisions” on the deployment of nuclear ballistic and cruise missiles in Europe against the USSR.
As for the emplacement of a strike BMD weapons in Romania, then we should also note the Russian leadership’s determination to take, if necessary, an adequate response. Undoubtedly, the responsive measures can be based on a comprehensive assessment of the balance of power in Europe and worldwide. As it has been already mentioned, Russian ICBMs are capable of overcoming much more advanced and the most sophisticated U.S. and NATO missile defense system in the long run. Russian long-range air and sea-based new non-nuclear cruise missiles like “Calibre” applied against the terrorist organizations in Syria have also got “A +” mark. Certainly, the combat capabilities of the Russian Navy, and means of electronic countermeasures will be enhanced, as it has been announced by Moscow in 2008.
Strictly and shortly about the gist of such countermeasures the Russian President has said: “The countries of Eastern Europe which house the U.S. first strike missiles are becoming legitimate targets for the Russian retaliation strike.”
It is not Moscow’s initial choice. This is a needed and forced response, prompted by the growing threat stemming from the United States of America.
In the list of potential measures (all of them will never be articulated as classified) they could be: the withdrawal of Russia from the INF Treaty, and even from the START-3 Treaty known in the West as the New START, signed in Prague in 2010. It is also clear that there will be no discussion with Washington on the possibility of drafting a new treaty on reduction of strategic offensive nuclear arms, or the beginning of negotiations on the reduction of tactical nuclear weapons in Russia until the combined American nuclear missile and missile defense threats, supported by general-purpose forces, are moving forward towards Russian door step. All these staff is not the final option.
The most promising and less painful step would be the withdrawal of the U.S. interceptors from the BMD system in Romania and the cessation of the construction of its twin in Poland, the complete pull back of the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe and Turkey, the cessation of NATO Air Forces’ operation in the skies over Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia where DCA or dual-capable aircraft – potential carriers of nuclear weapons – are used by the USA, the UK and France. Another measure to be negotiated should be a joint commitment by Russia and the United States not to use nuclear weapons in a first strike or their non-use at all.
At the same time there is a must to start a substantive discussion on the preparation of a new multilateral treaty on the reduction of striking combat means of the BMD – with subsequent definition of their total maximum limits and with the introduction of geographical restrictions on their emplacement beyond national borders.