The Blog

Time for a New Cold War?

5:10 PM, Jun 1, 2007 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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President Putin is concerned that U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe may threaten Russian security and perhaps even lead to a new arms race:

"Our partners are filling Eastern Europe with new weapons," he told reporters in Moscow in a joint news conference with Greek President Carolos Papoulias.

"What are we supposed to do? We cannot just observe all this. In our opinion, it is nothing different from 'diktat,' nothing different from imperialism."

Washington is currently discussing deployment of parts of the system with Poland and the Czech Republic.

It's clear that the system in question would not undermine Russia's deterrent capability--the Russian arsenal, the largest in the world, would easily overwhelm any defense that might be deployed in the foreseeable future. But it's not surprising that the Russians are unhappy to see any power--let alone the United States--emerge as a critical presence so close to their western border.

Interestingly, amidst all the talk of missiles and interceptors, it might be the American radar that is causing so much concern in Russia. A powerful radar is the key to effectively targeting an ICBM, but the radar the U.S. plans to deploy to the Czech Republic will also provide a superb view of just about everything west of the Urals. In this regard, the US-Russian relationship took a hit when Democrats in Congress--in the name of improving those relations--denied funding for the missile silos needed to put the system into operation. Rather, Congress elected to authorize only the radar system. This has left Russian commentators wondering why the United States needs an advanced radar so close to Russia's heartland, especially if it's not being used to target missiles.

Be sure to check out the Former Spook for salient thoughts as well.