U.S. interceptor missiles in Poland cause concern in Russia

Sergey Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister (who the day before said NATO ships in the Black Sea could be directly bombed next time), was cited by TASS today stating his country would reconsider its military plans if the Pentagon goes ahead with stationing Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors in Poland.

The so-called missile defense interceptors will be a complement to the estimated twelve SM-3 Block IIA missiles that were deployed to Romania five years ago.

Part of what is called Aegis Ashore or European Phased Adaptive Approach, the SM-3s are to be based in the Polish city of Redzikowo by next year.

Aegis Ashore was introduced by the Barack Obama administration in 2009 as a substitute for an earlier plan to deploy a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system with missiles in Poland and a forward-based X-band radar in the Czech Republic.

When Obama and his defense secretary Robert Gates announced the current program in September 2009, the New York Times quoted Gates as follows:

“I have been a strong supporter of missile defense ever since President Ronald Reagan first proposed it in 1983. But I want to have real capacity as soon as possible, and to take maximum advantage of new technologies….American missile defense on the continent will continue, and not just in Central Europe, the most likely location for future SM-3 sites, but, we hope, in other NATO countries as well….We are strengthening – not scrapping – missile defense in Europe.”

Indeed both before and after the transition from the earlier-proposed to the Phased Adaptive Approach model, Pentagon officials discussed placing components of the Son of Star Wars (its moniker in defense circles) in nations like Ukraine and Georgia.

On September 17, 2009 President Obama said: “To put it simply, our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s allies. It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO allies.”

The pretext for placing interceptor missiles and accompanying radar facilities near Russia’s western borders was to protect the U.S. from Iranian, North Korean and Syrian missiles. Why North Korea would launch missiles over Europe to reach the U.S. or how Syria could possibly possess what in essence would have to be intercontinental ballistic missiles were questions not asked by the ever-subservient press corps.

SM-3s are the missiles Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of two weeks ago when he warned about Moscow’s red lines.

Without specifying them by name he mentioned that Standard Missile-3 missile defense interceptors in Romania and Poland could strike Moscow in 15 minutes if a warhead was added to them; which, although the West denies its intent to do so, could be easily done. Russia has not been invited to inspect the missiles, for example. Paraphrasing the head of state, the TASS news agency disclosed the above threat is eminently practicable “because the missile defense launch systems stationed there can be used to carry out strikes as well.”

In addition to the ground-based interceptors, the U.S. has 84 guided-missile warships (62 destroyers and 22 cruisers) capable of being equipped with SM-3.s Those ships regularly prowl the waters of the Barents, Baltic and Black Seas off Russia’s coast. USS Laboon, in the Black Sea at the moment, is such a ship.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov evinced a realization of the true purpose of the missile deployment in Poland when he said, “The facility in Poland, same as in Romania and many other spots, is going to become an element of the global anti-missile defense system, which is being constantly improved, and whose possibilities, including with regard to potentials, equal opponents, are expanding as well.”

What he didn’t say is that the global interceptor missile system he mentioned is indeed the legitimate offspring of the Ronald Reagan administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars.