NATO ministers and Russia meet today in ongoing discussions about a European defense system. The Obama Administration axed the large-scale system anchored in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying they threatened Russian security. But Russia hasn’t changed its mind about the one under discussion either. Under the doctrine of ‘mutually assured destruction’, Russia believes a defensive shield that near its borders would threaten its offensive capability.
NATO, the Russians say, do not understand their position. NATO says the defense is meant only for short and medium ranged missiles from the Middle East, and that would also help Russia. I’m not sure telling Russia what might help it defend herself is a good NATO strategy. Russia’s countered the START Treaty on strategic arms. According to the Christian Science Monitor:
As frustration mounts among NATO officials, Russians have countered that the West does not understand their position. Alexei Arbatov from the Center for International Security told the Voice of Russia that his nation wants its interests taken into consideration and written guarantees that Europe will reconsider the missile defense system if the Iran nuclear threat diminishes.
“NATO’s position is not impeccable and inviolable, as the alliance’s chief claims it to be,” Mr. Arbatov said. “Besides, NATO should not force its will on Russia or dictate to it, not if it wants to have Russia as a reliable partner.”
Why missile defense is even an issue at this point is puzzling. It is aimed at defense against Iran. But of course Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, although it is testing ballistic missile capability. That project was set back by last month’s huge explosion at an Iranian defense plant that killed Iran’s top ballistics engineer.