U.S. moves in Eastern Europe complicate START talks

US missiles and troops will be deployed in Poland, less than 60 km from the Russian border.

US missiles and troops will be deployed in Poland less than 60 km from the Russian border.

The Obama administration is planning to station American Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Poland within 60 kilometres of the Russian border, sparking expressions of concern from Russia.

The Russians perceive the plan to station the missiles and accompanying troops in Poland as part of a larger build-up of American military infrastructure in Eastern Europe that threatens Russian security. They have expressed particular concern about U.S. plans to deploy a missile defence umbrella in Europe. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has indicated that Russia may develop offensive weapons in response.

The defence shield has also further complicated the ongoing Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) talks between the US and Russia, which are intended to further reduce the nuclear arsenals of both nations. The U.S. State Department insists that the START negotiations are not the appropriate forum for discussing missile defence systems, but the Russians are insisting that the issue be addressed in some way. The START talks have already missed their December 5th deadline, but are scheduled to continue on Monday.

The American plans in Eastern Europe come amidst the White House’s Quadrennial Defense Review and its fiscal year 2011 budget request, both of which will be submitted to Congress on February 1st. The administration will request a record-high $708 billion for the Pentagon, which will continue funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and expand American military operations in Pakistan, Colombia, Bulgaria, Romania, and parts of Africa.

Photo: The Prague Post

Tags: Ballistic Missile Defence, NATO, Nuclear weapons, Obama administration, Patriot missile, Poland, Quadrennial Defense Review, Russia, START, Vladimir Putin