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Sticking An Iskander Missile Into The ABM Shield Part Two

Posted by Kris Roman on November 20, 2008

The deployment of Iskander short-range quasi-ballistic missiles and electronic countermeasures in the Kaliningrad region of Russia looks certain to produce a response from the United States.

Washington’s first step will be to hand over Patriot PAC-3 ground-to-air anti-ballistic missile interceptor systems to Poland. An agreement to pass a Patriot battery — 12 launchers — with an ammunition load of 96 missiles to the Wojsko Polskie, or Polish army, already has been achieved.

However, Patriots do not guarantee the safety of Ground-based Mid-course Interceptor missile launchers, and to make them more secure the United States might reinforce Poland’s air force with modern strike aircraft able to destroy Russia’s Iskanders before they launch their missiles. U.S. Air Force units and formations are likely to be deployed in Poland directly.

Russia understands the likelihood of such a development of events. So, in addition to deploying Iskander missile systems and electronic countermeasures in the Kaliningrad region, it can strengthen its grouping of ground, air force and air defense troops in the area, both by bringing up existing units to scale and by sending in reserves from inside districts.

Undoubtedly, such an escalation will increase tensions in Eastern Europe. We are currently observing a reopening of the Cold War’s European front, which has now moved several hundred kilometers eastward.

Russia started warning of the undesirability and danger of deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in Europe many years ago. Its statements gradually have intensified in expression, from regrets over the lack of a normal dialogue to a direct threat to suppress the system with force. The United States, meanwhile, has only chanted the mantra of the anti-Iranian purpose in its European missile shield. The question of “why a missile defense system cannot be deployed in Turkey” has never been completely answered.

To sum up, we have the following picture: An “anti-Iranian” missile defense system will be deployed in the next two to three years in an area clearly beyond the reach of Iran’s existing and projected missiles, but very convenient for intercepting missiles launched from European Russia in a northern and a northwestern direction.

The immediate targets of this system are Russia’s 28th, 54th, 60th and other Strategic Missile Divisions deployed west of the Urals. A simple look at the numbers shows that although there are several Topols and UR-100s for each American GBI interceptor, this ratio would only stand until the first nuclear strike.

The concern is that it could be tempting to initiate a strike when you have a system that protects against retaliation. It is only to be hoped that a new U.S. administration will hear Russia’s case and agree to develop a mechanism of collective security in Europe. If not, development could be hard to predict.

(Ilya Kramnik is a military commentator for RIA Novosti. 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.)

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