The Kremlin thinks the sole aim of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system in Europe is to undermine the counterstrike potential of the Russian strategic deterrence forces deployed in the Tver, Ivanovo, Saratov and Kaluga regions in central Russia. In fact, it will be a formidable threat to one-third of Russia's Strategic Missile Force.
Lavrov did not hide the Kremlin's concern.
"We don't see any threats to Russia coming from Poland," he said at a news conference after his talks with Sikorski. "But we cannot ignore the fact that an inalienable element of the U.S. strategic systems will be deployed close to our border. The (ballistic missile) facilities in Eastern Europe cannot have other targets than Russia's strategic arsenal for years to come."
This was Russia's response to those who claim the U.S. missile defense system in Europe is designed to protect the United States and its allies from the ballistic missiles of rogue states, primarily Iran. This is ridiculous, because Iran does not have and for a long time will not have missiles capable of reaching Europe and America.
Other Russian officials, including four-star Army Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, then chief of Russia's General Staff and now on the staff of the Russian Security Council, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak, former deputy foreign minister of Russia, have also expressed their opinions about threats to Russia's counterstrike potential.
Baluyevsky said at a briefing at the Russian news agency RIA Novosti last November that the United States would not be satisfied with the deployment of missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic and would press for more sites for its ballistic missile defense system.
He was proved right on the very day Lavrov visited Warsaw. The U.S. Senate allocated $89 million to "the activation and deployment of the AN/TPY-2 forward-based X-band radar (the same as in the Czech Republic) to a classified location."
The "classified location" is not a complete secret.
Three-star U.S. Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has said more than once that Turkey, Georgia and even Ukraine could be future locations for ballistic missile defense systems. Since the systems cannot very well be deployed near Tbilisi or Kiev today, the U.S. Department of Defense most likely will choose Turkey or, some Western analysts say, Israel or Japan.
Both ideas are quite reasonable.
(Part 2: Where will the United States deploy its BMD interceptors next?)
(Nikita Petrov is a Russian military analyst. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)