The development and deployment of the U.S. missile defense, America being a pioneer in the sphere, began over 60 years ago.
The lively discussion that went on among the U.S. leaders at the dawn of development and practical use of anti-missile technology in combat components of ballistic missile interception was quite dramatic and tense. The main stumbling block was the dilemma: would this system be efficient or not, would it be able to intercept and destroy all incoming missiles launched towards the American continent, would the setup of such an anti-missile infrastructure result in a nuclear arms race between countries that had nuclear arsenals and setting up their own missile defenses?
In the 1970s, the fight between ideas and concepts in the sphere of providing protection against ballistic missiles in the United States was won by proponents of a carefully calibrated policy who advocated deployment of a limited system for interception of such missiles on a scale that would not provoke America’s main rival – the Soviet Union – to take retaliatory steps. In these circumstances, Washington in 1972 initiated the signing of the ABM Treaty with Moscow that has recognized the need to maintain a balance between strategic offensive nuclear weapons and strategic defensive systems and therefore agreed to their simultaneous restriction qualitatively and quantitatively. Remarkably, the agreement between the two leading superpowers was achieved during the Cold war, which was marked by instability and suspicion, sometimes escalating to a dramatic level.
The paradox with missile defense development in the 21st century is related to the fact that after the period of bloc confrontation ended, a completely opposite trend emerged within the American elite, with those favoring the disruption of the global strategic balance getting the upper hand when developing new concepts of the anti-missile “shield”. These groups, closely linked to the defense industry, made an attempt to disrupt the organic interrelationships between strategic offensive nuclear arms and strategic defensive weapons, and began actively promoting withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, which had always been seen by the previous U.S. military and political leaders as “a corner stone of strategic stability in the world.” Washington managed to carry out this plan in June 2002, when it unilaterally and without any compelling reason withdrew from the ABM Treaty and started uncontrollably building up different modifications of missile defense systems, first on the national, then on regional and later on the global scale.
In recent years, the most destabilizing project in this respect has been the concept of European Phased Adaptive Approach or EPAA that meant the deployment of a missile interception system, which was announced by President Barack Obama on September 17, 2009, in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. The proposed ambitious scheme for deploying missile defense capabilities designed till 2020 and later extended till 2022 under the plan for “restructuring” of the entire system, announced on March 15, 2013, exceeded all previous concepts of the U.S. anti-missile infrastructure, developed and implemented by previous administrations, for its scale and military and strategic consequences. Washington explains that its wish to expand the BMDS to global dimensions is dictated by the fact that over 30 countries have obtained, or are trying to obtain ballistic missile technology.
The first results of this step towards this goal are well known. The United States, their allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and certain “privileged” partners that are not members of the Alliance have already set up a broad-based territorial and exterritorial missile defense infrastructure. Notably, in 2011-2016 served as the backbone of its global missile defense, set up an intercontinental network of information and reconnaissance facilities and new specialized multinational command and control bodies, which have already tested channels of interoperability in a real time. During this period, the international legal framework was adjusted to allow deployment of missile defense components; this was done in form of agreements signed with Washington’s five partners in implementation of its long-term missile defense strategy – Spain, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Entering upon his second presidential term, Barack Obama left unchanged his earlier promise to the U.S. Congress not to reduce his missile defense program either qualitatively or quantitatively. Signs have emerged that it may be extended even after 2022. A new timeframe has been named: after 2030. Importantly, the U.S. incumbent Administration has not drastically reviewed a single missile defense program and their financing, or production amounts of high-speed long-range interceptors, or plans of their deployment in key regions of the world.
The combination of the U.S. anti-missile, nuclear and conventional weapons deployed in Europe are forward-based in relation to the territory of the Russian Federation, which does not have similar capabilities on the American continent or very close to it. This is the key difference between Moscow’s and Washington’s stances in terms of their armed forces’ deployment.
This monograph is devoted to the analysis of all these issues from the point of view of Russia’s national interests and the need to maintain global strategic stability on the basis of balance between strategic nuclear offensive and defensive weapons of the leading nuclear and “missile defense” powers.
The book exhaustively studies U.S. and NATO programs to design, create and deploy missile defenses in a broad historical retrospect, but with a main focus (nearly 95 percent) on the contemporary stage of their implementation under the Administrations of Barack Obama, up to January 2016. The book devotes significant attention to critical analysis of different “compromises” proposed by Western and Russian political analysts, often seeking to settle the missile defense issue in the interests of the USA and NATO member-states.
The monograph gives a detailed description of the Soviet Union’s and then the Russian Federation’s stand on the missile defense issue. The author puts forward arguments that defend his country’s national approach, believing that the setup of a forward-based anti-missile “shield” of main NATO countries led by the United States in direct proximity to the Russian landmasses poses an increased security threat to strategic nuclear forces of Russia and destabilizes the global military and strategic stability in general.
This circumstance is further aggravated by the fact that the United States constantly modernizes its strategic and tactical nuclear forces, which form the basis of its strategic offensive nuclear deterrence and still remain the main means of the first “preemptive and preventive” nuclear strike. The named threat will become even broader as possibilities for intercepting ballistic and cruise missiles with anti-missile capabilities will increase with improvement of the guidance systems, range and speed of the Alliance’s interceptor missiles, and as a result of its manufacturing of such interceptors on a bigger scale.
The concept of building the U.S. missile defense has global implications; its deployed combat components have the potential for intercepting Russian missiles already today and pose a threat for the Russian forces of nuclear deterrence. The constantly growing information subsystem of the U.S. missile defense infrastructure ensures coverage of the entire Russian territory, and comprehensive use of its different information and reconnaissance assets significantly increases the efficiency of such infrastructure in general terms.
It is also important to take into account that America’s EPAA, the NATO ballistic missile defense Action Plan, and the “Rules of Engagement” concerning the use of anti-ballistic missiles, i.e. the elaborated Alliance’s instructions on the procedure and ways of using combat missile defense capabilities – all these documents have been drafted and adopted without Russia’s participation.
So, from the view of practical steps taken by the United States and their closest NATO allies with regard to global missile defense deployment, they may further consolidate efforts in this sphere in the coming years. This will allow the Pentagon to unfold a solid “anti-missile umbrella” over vast areas in Europe and around it, in the Asia-Pacific region and in the Persian Gulf, the Middle and Near East, as well as over its own nuclear missiles, which have been concentrated in forward-based areas.
At the end of 2016, it was more than fifty years since the Caribbean crisis (its escalation took place in October 1962), which was caused by unilateral deployment of the U.S. nuclear missile capabilities in Italy and Turkey with powerful nuclear warheads aimed at the Soviet Union. It cannot be ruled out that if members of the “nuclear five” that have national missile defense systems do not find a mutually acceptable solution to the missile defense problem, another, this time an “anti-missile” crisis may break out, with similar consequences. It can really aggravate the international situation, lower down the level of trust between great powers, stall the process of nuclear weapons reductions, erode strategic stability and bring about a competition between nuclear missiles and missile defense capabilities.
From the point of view of its national security, Russia cannot ignore such important circumstances of strategic nature. So, the national stand of the Russian Federation on the issue of missile defense is based on two key principles: the U.S.-NATO missile defense should not damage Russia’s national security, and Russia’s potential participation in the setup of a joint or “cooperative” system for ballistic missile interception with the United States and NATO should be necessarily based on the principle of equality and equal security of all parties, without provoking a race of anti-missile or other types of arms, without undermining the security of Russia’s allies and partners.
But if events go in a different direction, Moscow will be obliged to take greater care of its national security under qualitatively new military and strategic circumstances. As is well known, the Russian military and political leaders have been prompted to announce a list of potential military and technical measures in response to the ongoing buildup of the U.S.-NATO forward-based missile defense potential near the Russian borders. Obviously, this response will have to grow stronger as the missile defense network of leading Western countries moves closer to Russia with view to undermine Russia’s defense capabilities and disrupt regional and international stability.
Having initiated the setup of a missile defense in the late 1940s for the first time in history, all U.S. administrations regardless of their political principles have steadily and consistently worked to increase the information, reconnaissance and combat potential of this type of defense capabilities.
At the initial stage of the system’s deployment (1945-2002), U.S. presidents set the defense industry and the country’s military leaders the task of deploying missile defense infrastructure only on the CONUS, on a limited scale and mainly as a means of protection of key military installations and civil infrastructure against ballistic missiles, but after the George W. Bush Administration came into power (he was president from 2001 to 2009), a stable trend emerged towards deployment of its components outside the country. Function-wise, a task was set simultaneously to protect against ballistic missiles’ strikes not only the U.S. Armed Forces, but also the Armed Forces of all other NATO members, their civil population and their entire national territories in general.
In the missile defense sphere, U.S. President Barack Obama has gone further than his predecessors, announcing in September 2009 the launch of an absolutely new program of U.S. missile defense deployment in Europe, which was named the European Phased Adaptive Approach (or EPAA). This plan initially designed to be finalized in 2020 and then in March 2013 extended to 2022, allows the United States and their closest NATO allies having respective missile defense potentials to setup a forward-based structure for ballistic missile interception mainly on the European continent and around it at the adjacent seas.
Despite Russia’s objections, Washington continues implementing its ambitious plan of missile defense deployment in direct proximity to the Russian borders, which has already created a direct threat to Russia’s national security and its defensive nuclear deterrence forces. This threat may grow further by taking into account that the unified U.S.-NATO structure of missile defense in Europe can be used together with the U.S. nuclear missiles, i.e. together with its strategic offensive forces and tactical nuclear weapons, as well as with high-precision and hypersonic types of conventional weapons, which are being simultaneously developed by the American military-industrial complex. The formula of a mix of nuclear and conventional weapons with missile defense capabilities was for the first time included in final documents of the NATO Summit that took place in Chicago in May 2012 and later reiterated at Wales NATO Summit in September 2014.
The current research analyzes the military, political, diplomatic, financial and other aspects of the anti-missile shield that is being created by the United States and its closest allies, sums up the main results of the first stage of the EPAA implementation and assesses the possibility of its next three stages being carried out. It critically considers various “compromises” offered by Russian and foreign experts on the setup of a joint missile defense between the United States and Russia.
It describes in detail the stance of the Russian military and political leaders on the issue of missile defense and their proposals to set up a joint missile defense structure together with leading Western countries. It makes additional practical proposals seeking to find a balanced solution to the European BMD problem between Russia and the U.S./NATO based on the principles of equality and equal security of the parties and at the same time without damage to Russia’s national security interests.
The second English edition was enlarged due to additional material appeared after the first one was published in 2014. Like the first edition, the updated one is complemented with illustrations (photographs, figures and graphs), mainly made by the author.