Will Allow Missile Defense System; Russia Not Pleased
Brrr... did it just get a
bit chilly in here? A Russian general says Poland's agreement to
allow US missile defense batteries to be placed in the formerly
communist country may expose Poland to just such an attack.
"Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a
strike -- 100 percent," said Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's
deputy chief of staff, according to the Interfax news agency.
Those are harsh words... particularly as Russia continues to
advance into the former Soviet state of Georgia, despite calls for
a pullback from the United States and France.
Though initially reticent to sign the US
agreement, Poland signed the deal Thursday to allow a
missile interceptor base. The United States says the system is
intended to protect NATO-bloc nations from a ballistic missile
attack from rogue states like Iran... but Russia says the system is
aimed squarely at its own nuclear missiles.
And, if Nogovitsyn's rhetoric is to be believed, Russia appears
increasingly willing to use those missiles. The Russian general
pointedly noted its guidelines allow the use of nuclear weapons
"against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in
some way help them," a statute that also applies to defense systems
in his mind.
US officials maintain the timing of the agreement is not
meant to scorn Russia leaders, even as relations between the two
countries grow increasingly strained over Russia's hostile push
into the small state of Georgia. But Riki Ellison, President of the
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, isn't so sure.
"Over the last few days Russia has
fired over two dozen SS-21 Ballistic Short Range Missiles into the
country of Georgia, integrating ballistic missile strikes with
their conventional military forces," Ellison notes. "These missiles
have been used by the Russians tactically for psychological and
military targets as the Georgians do not have the capability to
defend against or defeat ballistic missiles.
"The use of ballistic missiles by Russia in this conflict sends
an endorsement to the international community that the use of
ballistic missiles has value, thus propelling countries and
terrorist organizations to develop, purchase and continue to
proliferate ballistic missiles... This outward military aggression
with the use of ballistic missiles from Russia on a former USSR
country sends a very serious message to all former members of the
Soviet Bloc, especially Poland," he added.
Despite the signing of a temporary cease fire, spurred on by
French president Nicholas Sarkozy, that agreement appears to have
little actual teeth to it... as Russia embraced a clause
allowing a "peace-keeping force" to remain in Georgia, as an excuse
to push further into the pro-US state.
There are some signs of hope about an end to the crisis, though
it appears heavily one-sided. On Friday, Georgian President Mikheil
Saakashvili signed a peace treaty with Russia... but it allows
Russian troops to remain in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a