The elements of the U.S. missile defense system will appear at the former Soviet military base in the Romanian town of Deveselu in some five hundred kilometers from the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This was stated by President Traian Basescu, who stressed that the two states have already agreed on everything.
"We have chosen and agreed upon the former air base Deveselu as the site for the deployment of a missile defense system," Basescu stated in a Romanian television broadcast. According to him, approximately 200 American troops would be stationed there, but if necessary their number will increase to 500. They will be supported by radar complex "Aegis", the center of operational control and missile defense batteries, and mobile batteries with interceptor missiles "Standard-3".
Which country is located not far from this military facility? The distance from the base to the Black Sea coast is approximately eight hundred kilometers, but the base of the Russian fleet in Sevastopol is closer - approximately five hundred kilometers. Foreseeing Russia's discontent, Basescu repeated what has in recent years become nearly a spell: "the ABM Treaty is not directed against Russia."
Strictly speaking, the decision to deploy the elements of the U.S. missile defense system in Romania was not a surprise. Even last year, President Basescu said that in his country there will be three batteries of a new missile defense system with 24 launchers. He also noted that the Romanian authorities were ready to deploy the "ground medium-range interceptor missiles that will be in a state of alert by 2015."
The missile defense elements in Romania will be a part of a new American missile defense elements expected to be placed in close proximity to the Russian borders. The U.S. has already agreed with Poland to deploy anti-missile complexes "Patriot" on the Polish territory. They will be placed on combat duty in the town of Morong, less than a hundred kilometers from the main base of the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad region. In addition, some elements of the missile defense may appear in Bulgaria.
Back then Russia has expressed its dissatisfaction with the behavior of the United States. American ambassador in Moscow John Byerly responded that the missile SM-3 interceptors were needed in Romania to defend against medium-range missiles, and Russia is not threatened. Americans, Romanians, Poles and Bulgarians replied in the same spirit. Meanwhile, the AMD was progressing.
In April, U.S. Assistant Secretary Philip Gordon said that the missile defense system in Eastern Europe will be deployed in four stages. First, by the end of this year the existing missile defense system - such as weapons control system of sea-based Aegis - will be deployed on the Black Sea and Baltic Sea. By 2015 Romania will host a more powerful version of the interceptor missile SM-3 (marine and land-based) and new RLM to protect a given area from the missiles of near and medium range.
Ultimately, by 2020, SM-3 missiles should be improved so that they can effectively deal with missile threats of medium and long range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Russia is the only country that has such weapons in the area. This makes the statements of the Americans and Romanians unconvincing.
It is not surprising that Russia's reaction to the statement of Romania's president was harsh. Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the U.S. is creating a missile defense system in Europe, irrespective of the US-Russian dialogue on missile issues initiated by the president Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama and the work on the project of a possible EUROPRO.
"The missile defense system that Americans are placing in Romania is designed to destroy ballistic and tactical goals," Konstantin Sivkov, a military expert and Senior Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Issues, commented on the American-Romanian plans for Pravda.ru. "If you look at the map of the region, the Romanian base can be used for only one goal: to keep southern regions of Russia at gunpoint and enable hitting our cruise missiles.
Missile defense elements in Romania are a part of the U.S. plan to encircle Russia with military bases. There are no other potential threats to the U.S. in this region. Turkey is a NATO member, Ukraine is actively cooperating with NATO. There are potential "hot spots" - the Crimea, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. The Americans are arming Georgia and pulling together the forces to the region - quite probably in anticipation of worsening of the conditions in this part of the world.
Contrary to the statements of the President of Romania, the missile defense deployment is directed precisely against Russia. We could take retaliatory measures such as deploying Iskander and transferring fighter bombers in the area. However, this requires political will. The pro-Western lobby in the Russian elite is too strong, and they prefer to buy NATO weapons we do not need like "Mistral" ships. It is unlikely that we will respond to the missile defenses in full. "
The U.S. policy is clear. However, the emergence of elements of American missile defense system in Romania would not be possible without the consent of Romania itself, that many simply cannot see behind the mighty backs of the U.S. President Basescu is a pro-American politician, but he is not a "chain dog" of Washington. He was not afraid, for example, to say "no" to the recognition of Kosovo's independence. However, in terms of Russia the interests of the United States and Romania are clearly the same.
Basescu kept repeating that Moldova should again become a part of Romania. He believes that a major obstacle for this is Russia that has repeatedly complained about the Romanian great plan. For him, the elements of missile defense are an additional opportunity to put pressure on Russia to make Russia more agreeable on the issues of Moldova and Transdniestria.
In this case, the United States and Romania, as they say, found each other. Russia will have to respond not only to the Americans but also to the Romanians. There is no guarantee that it will be one and the same response. For example, the deployment of Iskander in Transnistria is unlikely to impress Washington, but would be a different story for Bucharest.