Poland, Baltics ask NATO to focus missile shield on Russia
According to Der Spiegel, Poland and the Baltic countries have proposed that the NATO anti-ballistic missile defence system be focused on Russia. Germany and a majority of NATO members have however objected that “one should not provoke Russia unnecessarily”.
The US anti-ballistic defence systemm largely based in Romania, is aimed at protecting Europe from missiles that might come from rogue states in the Middle East. Reportedly, the proposal by Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia has been made as part of the preparations of the 4-5 September NATO summit in Cardiff, Wales.
The Polish-Baltic proposal would completely undermine the long-standing US position that the deployment of its anti-ballistic missile system is not aimed against Russia (see background).
However, the proponents of the idea have reportedly succeeded to put on the agenda before the summit the issue of new security measures for Poland and the Baltic states, such as increasing the number NATO reconnaissance flights at their eastern borders, and that those flights would not automatically terminate after one year, as it was planned initially.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for this measure to be reapproved by all NATO member states after a year. Over time, Berlin has realised it was the only one to stick to this position and has dropped the idea, according to the Der Spiegel article.
One of the major messages from the NATO summit in Chicago in May 2012 was that the new European missile defence system was ready to start operating. The mechanism will link together the missile defence systems of all the allies and it will be controlled by NATO.
NATO's Secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that this was the first step towards a long-term goal of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations.
Russia has voiced strong opposition to the idea. Experts say they believe it's an attempt to neutralize Russia's nuclear arsenal. NATO insists that the system is aimed at protection from Middle Eastern threats.
Moscow wants joint control of the system and a legally binding guarantee that the system is not aimed at Russia. NATO has so far refused to do so.