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Russia Ready to Deal with the US Missile Shield Plans in Diplomatic or Military-Technical Ways

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Iskander MissileHaving discussions and verbal conflict for almost a decade, Russia and US/NATO could never come to a solution of the Anti ballistic Missile Shield proposed in Poland. Russia and the US have been at odds over the issue of missile defence since 2000, ever since the notion was first put across by then-President George W Bush.

The US had been in talks with Poland and other European countries over the possibility of setting up a European base to intercept long-range missiles since 2002. According to US officials, a site similar to the US base in Alaska would help protect the US and Europe from missiles fired from the Middle East or North Africa.

Maintaining that European missile shield would be unable to protect Europe from a possible missile strike by Iran, Deputy Head of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov said “Elements of the US missile shield deployed in Romania are unlikely to be able to protect Southern Europe from any missiles launched from the South. As for the elements in Poland, they would be unable to protect Europe from any potential missiles coming from the South.”

If an Iranian missile flights to New York, even though Iran doesn’t possess technology or ICBM missiles which can reach that far, Romanian or Polish missile defence system situated way too in the north will not be able to do much. 

In September 2009, President Barack Obama had scrapped plans for a network of bases spread across Poland and the Czech Republic with the capacity to intercept long-range missiles since the new intelligence had shown Iran was pursuing short-range and medium-range missile development, rather than long-range, necessitating a shift in strategy.

However, in 2010, the US signed an agreement with Poland to use an old airstrip at Redzikowo, near the Baltic coast, as a missile defence base. Meanwhile, Russia has put into commission a radar system in its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad which is capable of monitoring missile launches from Europe and the North Atlantic.

Russia considers that the Anti Ballistic Missile shield system is targeted towards itself and is a threat to its security. The Anti Ballistic missile shield will not only be capable to shoot down Russian missile in the event of possible conflict handicapping the Russia’s whole Ballistic missile system, but also the radars established in the region will be able to sneak deep inside European Russia up to Ural mountains.

Russia is not against the Anti Ballistic Missile shield project led by US, but wants its own equal hand in the system and those radars which are to be placed close to the border of Russia should be completely replaced by the radars inside Russia with Russian control on it. Russia is willing to offer its existing Anti Ballistic Missile shield facility if US doesn’t plan to place its own radar system on Russian borders.

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov stated at an ABM conference after its participants visited a Russian radar station in Sofrino near Moscow. The station could be part of the shield if Russia makes a respective deal with the US and NATO, the official said. Russia has also proposed sharing the Qabala Radar in Azerbaijan, which is well near the northern border of Iran as an alternative to NATO radar in central Europe, but rejected by US.

Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev has come up with the new concept of the European missile defense system which should replace the one that is now being created by NATO. Patrushev said that the said such a jointly run European missile defense system “could strengthen security of every single country of the continent” and “would be adequate to possible threats,” as Russia doubts current NATO’s plan can actually save Europe from a missile from Iran. He recalled that Moscow has repeatedly proposed running the missile shield jointly with NATO, but the alliance has rejected that proposal [Source: U.S. ready to compromise with Russia on missile defense].

So far, NATO and the US have not shown the elements of cooperation with Russia on the issue of Anti Ballistic Missiles shield in Europe, in particular ignoring Russia’s proposals for a sectoral approach to missile defense. Agreements had been reached between Russia and NATO to cooperate on the draft European missile defense system at the summit in Lisbon in 2010, but failed to finalized since the U.S did not provide any legal written guarantee that the system being deployed is non targeting in nature against Russia’s nuclear deterrent [Source: When NATO/US European ABM becomes a threat, it will be dealt with].

Russian military and political leaders have been warning their western partners that Russia will retaliate by diplomatic and if necessary by military-technical moves unless an agreement on the European Missile Shield is reached.

ss-26-kaliningrad

SS 26, from Kaliningrad (globalsecurity.org)

On Thursday, 3rd May 2012, at an international conference held in Moscow, attended by senior NATO and US officials and many journalists, Chief of Staff Nikolay Makarov declared that Moscow will take equally tough measures if the US does not reconsider its missile defence structure. He mentioned strengthening the anti-missile shield, deployment of missile defence elements and placing of Iskander mobile theatre ballistic missile systems in Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic enclave , jamming and destruction of satellites required for the functioning of the missile defence, withdrawal from START (STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty), and as a last option possibke destruction of the US system in case Russia’s national interests are endangered. Russia boasts a wide range of forces and facilities to counter missile defence systems, with Iskander missiles being just of fraction of those, General Makarov stressed.

Russia does not even rule out delivering preemptive strikes against missile defense objects in Poland and Romania and shooting down U.S. satellites utilized as part of the shield, Makarov said [Source: Moscow Sends Missile Message to NATO].

Russia has been very serious on this issue and is getting even more aggressive seeing non cooperation from the US side, A high-ranking Russian military officer had also warned Poland that it was exposing itself to attack by accepting a U.S. missile interceptor base on its soil. The deputy chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn has warned Poland that, “by deploying (the system), it is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent.”

On November 14, 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that plans for a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe were misguided, and wouldn’t make the continent a safer place. “Deployment of a missile defense system would bring nothing to security … it would complicate things, and would make them move backward,” he said at a summit. He also warned Russian President Dmitry Medvedev against upping tensions by deploying missiles in Kaliningrad in response to the U.S. planned missile defense system.

Russia is regaining its lost glory and power and status on the international platform which it had lost after the collapse of Soviet Union and its western partners are unwilling to cooperate and respect the area of influence of this giant first by placing NATO military on the border of Russia and now placing a anti ballistic missile system than can disable Russia’s nuclear parity with US. At this Russia is at the state of dilemma, either it should cooperate and respond together with its western partners to new missile challenges and threats, or it should be forced to undertake the necessary military measures to safeguard its interest and reputation.

Terming the ongoing talks with US regarding the Anti Ballistic Missile as is at the situation of dead end Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Thursday, “So far, we have not found a mutually acceptable solution to the missile defense issue.”

Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Briefly about the Russian Political Discourse

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As you may have noticed, the recent international discourse has been rotating around Russia and its relations to other countries for a long time. Needless to say that after the events in Georgia/Ukraine, this discourse is far from friendly. Some even say that rhetoric of the Cold War has returned. What makes people abroad wonder is why Russia chooses to respond to its foreign partners in this particular way? Why is it the way it is?

To begin with, there are several reasons that shape Russian rhetoric. First of all, they are historical and cultural values. Russia sees itself as a defender of its rights and identity and someone who is not going to follow someone else’s rules. Back to the 13th century, the grand prince (rus. knyaz) Aleksander Nevsky only accepted submission  to the Golden Horde to protect the Russian culture and belief, therefore depriving the West of the opportunity to take over its territories.  This mentality still governs the minds of people. Today, current political rhetoric is doing the same by refusing the Western pressure and external interference into its business.

After the Golden Horde, Russia has managed to maintain its unity. Back then, the East saw the country to be an heir to the great Byzantine Empire. Meanwhile, the enormous size of the country was rather intimidating; and even more, when it started acquiring new territories (remember reaction to the situation with Crimea).

On the one hand, Moscow tries to present itself strong when it communicates with the Europe; on the other hand, the Western neighbours seem to use the same old-fashioned strategy to isolate the big neighbour. Since the time of Ivan the Terrible, no one really has wanted strong and stable Russia and there were steps before to prevent the unity of Eurasia.

The long history of Russia plays a big role in forming the modern mind of the citizen and current political rhetoric. Russian people and the government would not admit defeat and would do anything possible to prevail, even if it means to live in humble circumstances for some time (think of the continuous sanctions).

The tough policy of Peter the Great, the emperor of Russia, has brought the country to a new level in comparison to others. At that time already, all the international questions were only resolved with the help of Russia. In the following years, the power of the country kept growing only to solidify during the rule of Catherine the Great. The famous grand chancellor of Russia and the chief of foreign policy Bezborodko used to say, “I don’t know how it will be at your time, but at this time not a single gun is allowed to fire without our permission”[1]. Now, Russia tries to achieve similar influence.

The period after the World War II proved to be fruitful for the development of the European countries. While the US and USSR were competing, Europe was free from deciding on serious issues, so it could absorb and enjoy the time of quiet development.

Nonetheless, there has been a clear confrontation between the two ideologies, Nazism and Communism. Even though the USSR did not try to exterminate the nations, the scary ghost of the USSR keeps frightening the rest of the world. The impression of “evil USSR” flying over the international relations is still there and penetrates the minds of the people.

After the collapse of the USSR, there was a chance to promote peace and peaceful coexistence.  Russia has repeatedly expressed its interest in it, yet the Western partners have chosen another way:  NATO enlargement to the East (which is believed to be a broken promise).  Interestingly enough, George Kennan, the so-called creator of containment policy of Soviet expansion, considered the NATO expansion a tragic mistake.

All in all, abovementioned factors play a significant role in shaping the Russian political discourse. Cultural and historical values, national pride (and therefore negative feeling towards the Western sanctions) as well as the use of state symbols to unite the country are the most important rhetoric tools in the Russian language arsenal. Its constant and regular transmission through the media and other communication channels make this rhetoric influential and persuasive.

[1] [URL: http://www.istmira.com/istoriya-rossii-s-drevnejshix-vremen-do-nashix/290-kakovy-itogi-i-posledstviya-vneshnej-politiki.html] [дата обращения: 20.05.2016]

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Peace Talks – North Korea is Ready for negotiations, but only with Russia

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North Korea will enter negotiation talks with its rhetorical foe, the United States, over its nuclear weapons program and on the so-called “security guarantees” – only if Russia will come to the table. 

During an international conference in the Austrian capital (Vienna), Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, delivered a message to his US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, that the reclusive communist regime wants a peace talk with America over its nuclear ambitions.

 “We know that North Korea wants above all to talk to the United States about guarantees for its security. We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations. Our American colleagues, including Rex Tillerson, have heard this.”, said, Lavrov, as reported by the Interfax news agency.

However, there was no immediate response from the state department which has long insisted that the US will only consider direct talks unless North Korea stops testing ballistic missiles and agrees to denuclearize – an expectation that was defied by North Korea. 

In an interview with Russia’s state-run Russian Information Agency (RIA) news agency, Lavrov added that his country is ready to step in because Russia and North Korea have diplomatic relations. 

“We call on partners to focus on solving specific problems of the Korean Peninsula on the basis of negotiations. And for this, it is necessary not to rupture contacts with Pyongyang, but, on the contrary, develop it.” 

However, it seems very unlikely that Lavrov’s offer will convince the US, as Trump has long indicated that he has no plans on negotiating with Kim Jong-un.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”, said Trump on his tweet in October after dismissing a reported effort by Tillerson to pursue back-channel negotiations.

Moreover, aside from deriding the North Korean leader as the “Little Rocket Man”, the US President Donald J. Trump, called him a “sick puppy” and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and that the country “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.

The amid heightened tension between the US and North Korea reached its peak after the hermit kingdom tested its new and “most powerful” intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the “Hwasong-15” missile, November 29 of last year; claiming that it was capable of striking the US mainland – a missile launch that followed the test of what was apparently a hydrogen bomb last September.

This was followed by Trump’s furious tweets, saying that “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The said “Hwasong-15”, as estimated by South Korea’s military, flew ten times as high as the International Space Station and twice as high as any satellite in low orbit after finally landing in the Sea of Japan – 210 kilometres west of Aomori prefecture, in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

It can be remembered that North Korea has also issued an explicit threat to Japan after the country, together with the US, spearheaded the United Nations security council sanctions in response to the regime’s recent nuclear test – saying that, “The four islands of the Japanese archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche.” and “Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”

A cue for the allied countries, Japan and the US, to call on China, North Korea’s sole major ally which accounts for more than 90 percent of trade; to fully implement the UN security council sanctions against the isolated country and other steps to pressure it.

However, although China has agreed to do so and has also been angered by Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests; it also sees that the US, along with South Korea, share responsibility for the rising tensions. Also, speculations are – China won’t pressure North Korea as much as Japan and the US want, primarily because while Xi Jinping does not trust Kim Jong-un, it trusts Trump less. In addition, Japan is China’s major rival – which history can be traced back to the ancient wars up to the recent issues such as the Nanking massacre and territorial disputes.

As of the moment, the US and North Korean positions are currently very far apart – with Washington wanting Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament to be on the table while Pyongyang wants Washington to recognize it as a nuclear weapons power.

“I think the US would be best served by putting aside the focus on denuclearization and instead look at ways to prevent accidents, reduce risks and de-escalate.”, suggested Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the New America think tank who has played a leading role in peace talks between Iran and North Korea.

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What’s Really Going On With Russia?

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Moscow Russia Putin

For the mere mortals among us, it’s hard to determine exactly what’s going on with Trump and Russia. To get the bottom of things, it may help to look at the backstory. There’s no denying that Russia and America have had a rocky road in the past. While things have always been a little strained, we did manage to find some level of calm. But, a NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 put a chilly slant on things. Add in one Vladimir Putin (elected in 2000), and you have an ice age on your hands.

But, what have the main issues been? Well, let’s be honest, the cold war got a little…cold. That did nothing to strengthen the relationship. Aside from that, the arguments between our countries come from a direct split in ideologies. Capitalism and communism don’t get on for obvious reasons. Add in the fact that the U.S. and Russia are some of the largest nuclear countries in the world, and you have a real conflict. Perhaps, for world peace, it would be best if we all ‘got along’, but our differing approaches only fuels the fire more.

But then, along came Trump. Despite other negative connotations to his presidency, he did at least seem willing to solve the Russia/U.S. split. In fact, during his election campaign, Trump heralded Putin as ‘very smart’, and gave every indication that he would treat Russia as an ally. He even tried to turn attention from Russia during the election hacking scandal.

Of course, the good times didn’t last long. We now find ourselves in a position where relations are more strained than ever. Given where we’ve been in the past, that’s hard to believe. But, the relationship has spiralled, perhaps in part due to the possibility that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. So, where did things go wrong? To get to the root of the rift, we need to revisit April 4th, when Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was allegedly responsible for dropping chemical weapons on his people. Chemical weapons which Russia had removed.

In an arguably rash counter attack, Trump ordered the dropping of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. It’s not hard to see, then, why things deteriorated so fast. Overnight, Trump and Putin went from the perfect pair to bitter enemies. And, for some, the change was too subtle to keep on top of. But, rest assured, the old order has been restored when it comes to our relationship with Russia.

So, where are we now? Recently, political figures such as Idaho’s senator, Mike Crapo, have been pushing hard for new Russian sanctions. The new bill, signed by a grudging Trump on the 2nd of this month, makes it harder for him to lift the sanctions if he wishes.

Trump’s reluctance seemed to come about due to remaining hopes of reestablishing relations with Russia. While that seems unlikely, the bill will ensure we can at least hold some level of control over what Russia does overseas.

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