President Dmitry Medvedev has announced a sweeping package of retaliatory measures Russia will take if the United States goes ahead with its missile defence plans.
The measures will range from targeting U.S. missile defence sites in Europe and deploying new long-range nuclear missiles capable of piercing U.S. missile defences to tearing up the Russian-U.S. START nuclear arms reduction pact and walking out of the arms control and disarmament process.
In a televised statement on Wednesday, Mr. Medvedev said that Russia would be forced to take countermeasures if the U.S. continues to ignore Moscow’s concerns and builds a missile shield that would upset the strategic balance of forces Russia.
The Russian leader outlined five immediate steps the Defence Ministry will take on his orders:
Put on combat alert Russia’s newest early warning radar in westernmost Kaliningrad region;
Strengthen anti-missile protection of Russia’s strategic missile sites;
Equip newly built long-range ballistic missiles with advanced systems for overcoming U.S. missile defences;
Develop low-cost and effective measures of disrupting information and fire-control systems of the U.S. missile defences;
If the above measures prove inadequate, Russia will deploy “state-of-the-art strike systems” in the west and south of the country and set up Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region capable of hitting the missile defence installations in Europe.
Mr. Medvedev warned that Russia may take further measures to counter the U.S. missile defences in Europe. “In the event of unfavorable developments Russia reserves the right to halt further steps in the disarmament sphere and, respectively, weapons control,” he said. “Besides, given the inseparable interconnection between the strategic offensive and defensive weapons, grounds may appear for our country’s withdrawal from the START treaty.”
The new START treaty signed last year is the most tangible achievement of the Russian-American “reset” the two countries embarked upon two years ago.
The clash over U.S. missile defence plans may effectively put an end to the “reset”. Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said that “a point of no return” in the Russian-U.S. standoff will be reached in May 2012, when NATO will give a final approval to its plans for missile defences in Europe.
Mr. Medvedev stressed that Russia remains open to dialogue with the U.S. and NATO on missile defense issues and to “cooperation that will factor in our legitimate interests.”