«Cassandra-type scenario» in the US-Russia missile defense arms race

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There is a strong probability that the world may witness a «tectonic plates» shift in the strategic equation between two major superpowers (the US and Russia), but it would be due to the continuing plans to deploy the US missile defense shield in Europe. The US is proceeding with this project without Russia’s participation on an equal footing, in violation of the key principle of equality and equal security, and in the knowledge that this constitutes a formidable threat to the Russian strategic nuclear deterrence and Russian national security interests as a whole.

So, if the American BMD system continues to be implemented in the future, there is a grave risk that this will trigger a missile defense arms race and, subsequently, a strategic nuclear arms race between Moscow and Washington.

However, to avoid such a «Cassandra-type scenario», a qualitatively new ABM treaty should be elaborated. Ideally, it should be a multilateral one that could prevent rivalry between potential global BMD systems. And the US should cancel stages two, three and four of its European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and focus mainly on improving its continental BMD. An exception from the latter provision: naval vessels with BMD assets should be able to sail the World Oceans freely, (without any limitation) but there should be mutual agreement that they should not approach too closely the territory of the «high contracting parties»; also some parts of the adjacent seas along the coastline of the USA and Russia should be designated «zones free from ballistic missile defense» — on an equal footing, naturally.

My answer to the second question:

No, President Obama is not capable of adopting a pragmatic approach in this domain owing to the deeply-rooted military and strategic perceptions prevailing in the US military-political establishment, which have been carried over from the Cold War era. This shows that it was a mistake to have awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. President Obama in his first term failed to meet expectations in the arms control domain: except for the signing the New START in 2010 with Moscow, he did not succeed in finding solutions in four key areas related to the global stability and global security, namely:

· The BMD arms race (it has already started);

· Tactical nuclear weapons (no negotiations to downsize them have been held since 1945);

· Conventional arms (no new CFE Treaty has been drawn up);

· Arms in outer space (there are no legal norms in the international law so far preventing their emplacement).

My answer to the third question:

There is no need for Russia to make any concessions for the following reasons:

Moscow is not going to emplace its BMD assets close to US territory (the US is continuing with EPAA);

Moscow does not store tactical nuclear weapons in the vicinity of the US (the US still keeps them in Europe — by the way, three types of US free-fall nuclear tactical bombs there are considered «strategic» because they can be delivered by heavy strategic bombers, namely B-2 and B52H that can fly more than 18,000 km with air refuelling);

Moscow does not have first-use of its nuclear arsenal written into its strategic doctrine (while the US does);

Moscow does not have superiority in conventional forces over the US (while the US does have such superiority over Russia).

From this it follows that prompt concessions or first practical steps in the arms control should be made by Washington, not Moscow.

Source: Voice of Russia