Missile defense shield in Europe unhelpful for peace, stability

(VOVworld)- The US missile defense shield in Europe, which has just been activated after a decade of planning, adds more conflicts to the existing differences between the West and Russia. Despite Russia’s objection and the historic nuclear deal struck recently between world powers and Iran, the US move may threaten peace in the region.

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US missile defense shield's groundbreaking ceremony in Poland (Photo: AFP/VNA)

In the 1980s, the US began developing missile defense system targeting the Soviet Union. After the cold war ended, the system development was interrupted but it resumed in 2007 with a new goal of countering missile attacks from Iran. But the system faced strong objection from Russia and appeared stalled. In 2009, US President Barack Obama pressed ahead with it to protect NATO allies against ballistic missile threats from Iran and North Korea.

Mounting tensions

Last week, the US and NATO officials declared their readiness to activate the missile defense shield in Deveselu, a sparsely-populated area in southern Romania. Washington plans to deploy a second shield in Poland in 2018, which with the radar system and warships will create a solid defense shield for NATO.

Despite Washington’s assurance that the systems in Romania and Poland are aimed at Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin claims they target Russia’s nuclear arsenal and violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty Moscow and Washington signed 30 years ago. In retaliation, Russia has sent an additional 3 divisions of troops to its western and southern borders and vows to nullify NATO’s missile defense shield in Europe.

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Aegis Ashore missile defense system in Romania (Photo: EPA/VNA)

Restraint from arms race for peace and stability

Russia has never accepted the presence of such a system in Eastern Europe and is now strongly protesting it. President Putin has held a series of meetings with security and military officials to discuss ways to strengthen Russia’s defense capability, including strategic repositioning, defense budget increases and weapons development.

Moscow is worried because the missile shield is closer to Russia than it is to Iran, whose relations with the West are improving. Although Russia says it will not be trapped in an arms race with the US and the West, observers do not rule out that possibility. Moscow plans to mass-produce hypersonic cruise missile 3M22 Zircon to equip its nuclear-powered patrol ships. Russia is investing in nuclear missiles, new class tanks, and stealth aircraft, and is maintaining a standing army of 800,000 troops. The US army is developing hypersonic missile technology, but for distant future. Worried about Russia’s increased military strength, Poland is spending 62 billion USD, 3 times the initial budget, to modernize its military.

In the wake of US-Russia tension over Ukraine, the missile defense shield in Europe and Russia’s sharp reaction to it may lead to a new global arms race. Hopefully, disputes will be resolved through dialogues for the peace and stability of all nations.

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