Russia Responds to the Probable AMD.

Yesterday Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev stated that Moscow will take “relevant steps” in response to signing an agreement about deploying American AMD elements in the Czech Republic. Officials with the Russian Foreign Ministry specified that those will be “military and technical measures.” For all that, many experts opine that Russia’s opportunity to challenge the American AMD system is much limited. Russia’s quitting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) of 1987 can turn out the only “relevant step” Russia will take.


Dmitry Medvedev expressed his disappointment that the USA hasn’t listened to Moscow which claimed that the elements of the American AMD located closely to the Russian border reduce drastically the country’s security. “We won’t get hysterical about the matter, rather, we’ll think over relevant steps,” the President stated after the G8 summit was over.

A bit earlier the Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to the concluding of a treaty in Prague that envisages deployment of an American radar in the Czech Republic. “We have no doubt that the USA strategic arsenal elements’ approaching Russia can be used to weaken our potential of containment,” the Ministry believes. “Obviously, under such circumstances the Russian party will take relevant measures to compensate for the potential of threats to its national security. But it’s not our choice.” At the same time, the Russian MFA assured that in case the agreements with the USA, which are to be ratified in the Czech parliament, become of legal character and real deployment of the American strategic AMD is launched near the Russian border-line, Moscow will have to respond with “military and technical measures, rather than those diplomatic.”

Washington seems to be skeptical about Moscow’s statements. According to Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, Russia’s belligerent rhetoric is aimed to make all the Europeans, who are involved in the deployment of the AMD system, feel nervous. “But it won’t work,” he promised.

At the same time many experts believe that Russia can hardly respond to the USA in military and technical terms. “Our statements regarding the matter are nothing more than pouting,” said former Commander-in-Chief of Radio-Technical Air Defense Forces General- Lieutenant Grigory Dubrov in his interview to Interfax. “Today Russia has actually no economic, political or military opportunity to challenge the force impending from the West.”

Ivan Konovalov, Deputy Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technology considers that Moscow can lower the threat coming from the American AMD. “We should deploy operational-tactical missile complexes in the Kaliningrad region and Belarus,” he told Kommersant. Alexander Khramchikhin, Head of the analytical department of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, also shares the viewpoint that aiming missiles at the American AMD elements in the Czech Republic and Poland can be an effective counter-measure. “It’ll be pointless to use aircraft – you will have to build bases for it. Besides, jets can get shot down, and a missile will always hit the target,” Mr Khramchikhin thinks. In his estimation radio-electronic noise to these elements is an answer.

In this connection, intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles could become the corner stone of Russia’s defense. The 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union imposes a ban on using them. Nevertheless, as far back as last year Moscow threatened to quit the treaty, all the more so since the text of the agreement provides for it if “the Party decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests.” The deployment of the American AMD in Poland and the Czech republic, in the view of Russia’s authorities, is the “extraordinary events.”

The thing is, experts emphasize that the Russian missile and nuclear potential is getting dilapidated. More to the point, the streamlining of the «Topol-M» missile complexes and their applying in the Russian army have been carried out too slowly. And few people doubt the fact that the American AMD in Europe, which now envisages only ten interceptors, will be expanded in the future. If the current trends keep on, Russia will hardly manage to reckon with more than 400-500 warheads by 2020. Some Russian experts presume that the USA will be able to intercept half of those missiles. The situation can turn out especially unfavorable in case the American party launches the first attack, whereas a counterattack of the Russian missiles left can get completely parried.

However, many observers prefer not to lay it on thick. “The story with the AMD has been dramatized,” Alexey Malashenko, Moscow Center Carnegie Expert, told Kommersant. “There is no real threat to Russia. Still, it gives the military a pretext to press for boosting the military budget.”


Alexander Reutov

Published: Kommersantъ