Deveselu missile shield – East and West; PR & Business

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As a history irony, the former Deveselu Air Military Base – build at the URSS request as part of the defensive aerial system created to protect de states that were part of the Warsaw Pact – became NATO base, a part of the shield known as “the US – built missile shield in Europe”, therefore an integrated military system, with numerous components spread around the world and with an eminently defensive role, at least theoretical, but incontestable proactive, inhibitor.

I don’t know if the place has been accidentally chosen or as a result of. Even though few know this thing, in the Cold War period, this base has been a priority target for the CIA agents. There is a story that talks about the declaration as a “persona non-grata” and expulsion of a military diplomat of US to Bucharest, after he has been caught spying the military base by the vigilant “villagers” of the 3rd Counterintelligence Direction.

Let’s make business, not war!

Today, the times have changed, and that active young man and eager to assert his intelligence, if he still alive, can feeling avenged. More, he can visit Deveselu whenever he wants and would have been interesting if someone would have thought to invite him at one of the ceremonies that have been taken place in the last period.

110426-M-3545V-002.jpgI talk about because around in mid-May, the US Embassy in Bucharest organized, from obvious reasons of propaganda and PR, a ceremony to initiate the missile shield system Aegis Ashore from Romania. I said “PR”, because there was only a political – diplomatic protocol. In fact, the testing and functional certification of the capability from Deveselu took place since last fall, in October 2015. But, operational means that its elements must be integrated in the expanded NATO missile defense, i.e. connected with elements placed on the US destroyers hosted by the Rota harbor (Golf of Cadiz, Spain). There was a false pretext of ceremony, because once the system became operational, the control of the facility must be transferred – at least theoretically – to the command of the Alliance. Or the really transfer just happened to the NATO Summit in Warsaw.

Could things escalate above the rhetorical level to a new Cold War or even worse? In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched to the SPIEF works an unequivocal message to the EU: ”Come on, let all conflicts behind and to see about our business!”  Right ! Although the war has enriched some, a business-friendly climate never killed anyone. Consequently, let’s make business not war!

At the same time, the ceremony from Romania prefaced another event: the launch ceremony of the next phase of the project that will be hosted in Poland[1]. Benefiting from the highest level support – by the presence of the Romanian PM Dacian Ciolos and the NATO General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg – the event has raised numerous statements in response, the most publicized being of course the one of the Russian President Vladimir Putin with clear reference to Romania and Poland[2]. Putin said, no more and no less, that the US military capabilities  have been or to be built in the two countries are directed against one target, and this target is Russia, the conversion from the defensive system in an offensive one being easy. redzikowo-base

In support of these allegations, Russian officials said the system Aegis Ashore, including Deveselu, using launches vertical type MK-41 equipment which supposedly could launch not only interceptor missiles, but also cruise missiles Tomahawk type banned by INF Treaty[3]. The reaction of NATO officials was either one flaccid, denial no arguments or just one bombastic.  So we witnessed to strengthening of the US military presence and the NATO multinationals brigades in the region. We saw many joint military exercises with the armed forces from the eastern flank, as an answer to “the aggressive behavior of the Russian authorities”. And suddenly, was delivered an explanation that is going to calm the spirits: “This will be a presence to deter Russia, not threaten Russia”. Epic !

In spite the apocalyptical titles from mass-media and the tensions accumulated between East and West – Deveselu is just one of the bone of contention – in essence, the two parts have done nothing more than to reiterate the same statements, motivations and arguments that were heard beforehand September 2011 when at Washington has been signed an agreement between Romania and US. Who profits from this verbal war? Who uses the antiballistic shield from Europe? Deveselu shield is ensuring protection or is threatening?[4] A cynical expert could say that to protect some, many, are sacrificing others few which are transformed in potential priority targets. I am saying that, maybe, this is the price that Romania must to pay following its option. History will decide if it was a good one or not.

Could things escalate above the rhetorical level to a new Cold War or even worse? In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched to the SPIEF works an unequivocal message to the EU: ”Come on, let all conflicts behind and to see about our business!”  Right ! Although the war has enriched some, a business-friendly climate never killed anyone. Consequently, let’s make business not war!

In the meantime, some questions and assumptions response are especially necessary.

Qui prodest? – following the money and not only…

The Pentagon’s arguments regarding the placement of the anti-missiles shield elements in Europe has been modified constantly by the economic and diplomatic interests, by the foreign policy of the White House, by the partnerships from the North Atlantic Alliance, by strategies and resources.

Pre-summit press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw on 8 and 9 July 2016

Pre-summit press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw on 8 and 9 July 2016

Of course, for Bucharest is slightly difficult to waltz every time with the exchangers motivations delivered by Washington, especially after signing the agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue, which has “suspended” at least temporarily “reasons” of anti-missile shield in Europe, confirming involuntarily the signals given previous by Moscow, the ones that we’ve been talking about earlier. In this context, the conflict between Ukraine and the intervention from Crimea of the Russia offered to the American policy a false but apparently credible enough argument in front of the NATO partners to continue the project. It is like a “Dear Putin, you are right, but you still got no red boots” (or do you?). I don’t know how to say it so it won’t be untranslatable. In short, if a decisive pretext would disappear, immediately another one could be found.

But let’s back and talk about money. During his recent European tour, in Berlin Barak Obama reminded to all NATO members that US would like to recover at least part of the money invested in the missile defence from Europe. As well reiterated how important a budget increase in defence is. All this suggest that, beyond strategies and security threats, here is all about business. As we all know, US is the first on top of arms exports, and the main rival is Russia.[5] If we take a close look to the competition between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin on the European market for anti-aircrafts and anti-missile systems[6] or if remark the irritation caused by the Turkey’s decision to spend a fortune building a similar system, like the Chinese one, but non-compatible with NATO technology, it becomes clear where is the US’ interest, and why they clang (literally and figuratively) their weapons along Russia’s borders.

The only way to prove the viability of the North-Atlantic Alliance is to provide a perpetually credible enemy. So, for this role US need a powerful state, alive, aggressively pursues its legitimate interests, fully equipped military, influential and credible. If this state holds nuclear triad, is better. The perfect profile to be labelled by the West propaganda as ”global danger”. And Russia is the perfect match.

To add a touch of colour to the previous paragraph, Raytheon already proved their quality products comparing with Lockheed Martin in 1991 during the Gulf War, when the Patriot missiles enjoyed huge global exposure. We remember those missiles flying randomly, in all directions, although later was proved that Saddam had no ballistic charge to launch!  It was the start of the Raytheon’s transit from fridge-freezers, air conditioner machine and transistors – to build aircrafts. Today, they became the greatest provider of radar equipment and air defence. Because, as snippets of Anglo-Saxon wisdom teach us, “ought not to put our trust in money, but put money in a place we can trust.”

But isn’t just about money! By far the most important for US was (and still is) legitimisation of its actions through NATO. US want to claim legally approved, recognised and sustained military interventions via NATO, similar to those approved and sustained by or under the UN’s flag. The only way to prove the viability of the North-Atlantic Alliance, divided by the huge discrepancy (income and resources) between the older member and the newcomers (especially the eastern wing, formed by the states of the ex-Warsaw Treaty), is to provide a perpetually credible enemy. So, for this role US need a powerful state, alive, aggressively pursues its legitimate interests, fully equipped military, influential and credible. If this state holds nuclear triad, is better. The perfect profile to be labelled by the West propaganda-machine as ”global danger”. And Russia is the perfect match.

Threat versus opportunity 

On the one side, Russia had lots of objections about the missile defence from Europe since the plan for it was just on Pentagon’s papers. But, the Russia reactions went light, fragmented between the objections against the US and NATO, because US theoretically had passed all decision on this issue to NATO. Russian Ambassador to NATO at that time, Dmitry Rogozin, currently vice premier, was put in an impossible situation: to ”negotiate” with all 28 member states. Concomitant, US spread some information about the possibility that

Russian Ministry of Defence, General Army Sergey Shoigu

Russian Ministry of Defence, General Army Sergey Shoigu

Russia could join NATO. Obviously, was just a plan to deceive the vigilance of Kremlin. Was a move which the Moscow understood later, and attempted to reverse by rethinking its medium and long term military and diplomatic strategies. Perhaps, a ”cold shower” for Kremlin was, as well, on 21st February 2008 at 3.26 am, when the Lake Erie warship has launched a single RIM – 161 – SM – 3 missiles (similar to those from Deveselu), slightly modified for extra-atmospheric flight. It hit and destroyed US 193 satellite on 247 km above Pacific Ocean. Just like Stars War! Today, without satellites you’re as good as dead! Probably, Russian officials got scared thinking about their own satellites floating about in space, although they remained (apparently) indifferent to the event.

Perhaps such a ”reason” worried the global press, not just the pro-Atlantic one, which too easy slipped over the conditional undertone in President Putin’s statement that Russia will aim Romania ”only if” Russian army and Russian secret services will observe that ”the defensive purpose of the facility from Deveselu will be changed into an offensive one”.

On the other side, Russia used an ambivalent speech, which did not help international community to understand it intentions. In fact, one day political representatives from Russia affirm that missile defence from Deveselu is an obvious threat on Russia security. The next day, military officials infirm and explain there is no threat to Iskander, Topol–N or Bulava missiles. All these looks like pure propaganda! Although, there is some true. About some missiles even Vladimir Putin or US officials speak quietly. Looks like those missiles might penetrate the shield defence?! There is about SSN – 30 A, released recently , on the Caspic Sea, against some targets from Syria. Some military blogs said it may hit anywhere in Europe, and can be equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads.  Remind that in 2013 US spoke about the violation of INF Treaty and said that the new technology is derived from Russian cruise missile SSC – X – 8. Perhaps such ”reason” worried the global press, not just the pro-Atlantic one, which too easy slipped over the conditional undertone in President Putin’s statement that Russia will aim Romania ”only if” Russian army and Russian secret services will observe that ”the defensive purpose of the facility from Deveselu will be changed into an offensive one”.

Moreover, the opinion of the Russian Minister of Defence expressed by spokesperson, Gen. Major Igor Konashenkov, that „NATO’s accusations that Russia is breaching the military transparency mechanisms in Europe are an attempt to encourage anti-Russian feelings, in order to increase the Alliance’s military expenses. It is obvious that the true purpose of this declaration…is to deliberately stimulate panic and maintain the chymera of a common enemy” is quite rightly. But I personally noticed that, by allowing this permanent verbal conflict to brew, Russia is making itself a disfavour, and fuels the growing of Russophobia in Europe.

In the same times, I think that feelings against Russians can be capitalised by Russia to increase its own military capabilities, and to intiate, develop and strengthen a military alliances of BRICS, even if many times Vladimir Putin said that there are no plans for a military or political alliance. In these terms, the Deveselu shield seems more like a generator of opportunities, rather than a threat to the Russian Federation. In the same way as the military Russian doctrine according to which „The Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in retaliation to the use of nuclear weapons or any other type of weapons of mass destruction against it, and/or of its allies, and also in the case of assault by conventional weaponry against the Russian Federation if this threatens the very existence of the State” seems more like a big generator of opportunities for the US than a threat against eastern flank of NATO.

Placebo pill for the eastern wing of NATO

               Least, but not last, for Romania and the Romanian leaders in Bucharest, the missile shield represents the mainly project in the fields of military and security cooperation with the US, itself a strategic partner and leader of NATO. It is a major investment in Romania security and, according the “NATO guide”, it is not aimed against Russia, but has a preventive purpose, to discourage and to provide warning in the event of a hypothetical ballistic missile attack. Sure, a similar motivation is also provided for the components of the shield which will be assembled in Poland[7]. Romania and Poland understand and accept the risk of being primary targets in the event of an armed conflict between Russia and NATO. In other words, both countries are trying to prove that are safe, loyal, predictable and consistent partners in the achievement of their duty.

_60312125_us_missile_def_slide03_624_2Besides the rhetoric threatening, the shield benefit is difficult to prove, because we are dealing with hypotheses – possible, but unlikely. Anyway, for the countries of the eastern wing of NATO the shield seems just an expensive pill, with placebo effect, against Russian fears. Most likely, it is just so: they create the problem, then they come up with an apparent saving solution, obviously expensive.

But of course, there is an elementary question: What they receive in return?  Can Romania be sure that NATO will defend it, if necessary? More: Is the missile shield protective just for countries from the West of Europe because it slightly diverts attention from some of them? Besides the rhetoric threatening, the shield benefit is difficult to prove, because we are dealing with hypotheses – possible, but unlikely. Anyway, for the countries of the eastern wing of NATO the shield seems just an expensive pill, with placebo effect, against Russian fears.

Most likely, it is just so: they create the problem, then they come up with an apparent saving solution, obviously expensive. This may work as well for the Russians, but contrary.

Follows the Stoltenberg’s statements at the summit in Warsaw regarding the resumption of work on the NATO – Russia Council, the conclusion can be only one: beyond headline propaganda and political interests, spheres of influence and ideological confrontations, nobody can push things over the red point where there’s no turning back. Not even NATO.

  And what if the defensive purpose of the Deveselu shield might be replaced with offensive ones (the possibility to replace interceptor missiles with offensive ones, even American officials not try to deny anymore)? It means an already clear decision for military conflict between NATO and Russia (which seems unlikely – nobody truly wants a war with Russia, particularly a nuclear war). In case of conflict, with or without missile shield, Romania is in the very first line. Because Romania means NATO, even if its commitments are obviously, but not the rights and interests as an ally, especially as border ally, as well.

And finally, a question for Russia : if – hypothetical – the countries of the former Warsaw Pact would not have opted for integration into NATO and the EU, the most probably would have had all the chances to experience a greater infusion of democracy type ”Arab Spring” or “Euromaidan”. What would have Russia been able to do for them? Probably nothing concrete – not out of spite or ill faith – while the cores of violence would spread everywhere around and multiplied exponentially. More so, would Russia have felt less vulnerable with multiple sources of instability like Ukraine around it? The answer is considerably more predictable that the security risk generated by the Deveselu missile shield. Follows the Stoltenberg’s statements at the summit in Warsaw regarding the resumption of work on the NATO – Russia Council, the conclusion can be only one: beyond headline propaganda and political interests, spheres of influence and ideological confrontations, nobody can push things over the red point where there’s no turning back. Not even NATO.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s return to the usual (and peaceful) business!

***

Gabriela Ionita is Romanian journalist, editor în chief of Power&Politics World journal, analyst in the field of International Relations and Security Studies (mainly connected with the Russian Federation and Community of Independent States). She took her university degree in Communication and Public Relation at the National School of Political Science and Public Administration – Bucharest. Also she attended intensive courses Diplomacy and National Security organized by the Centre for Strategic Applications – Bucharest. She has Master degree in the field of Foreign languages and civilizations (Slavonic studies) at the Faculty of Philology from ”Al.I. Cuza” University – Iassy.

[1] Ground Base Redzikowo (Poland) will be part of the American system of missile defense developed in Europe, the Phase III development of the European side of the US missile defense (European Phased adaptive Approach / EPAA), the term for completion in 2018. http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/facility/redzikowo.htm

[2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3614027/Vladimir-Putin-warns-Poland-Romania-caught-crosshairs-Russian-rockets-hosting-defence-shield-considers-threat-national-security.html

[3] Intermediate-Range and Shorter Range Missiles Treaty was signed in 1987 by the US and the USSR. http://www.state.gov/t/avc/trty/102360.htm

[4] The facility hosted three US Deveselu includes SPY-1 radar, and SM-3 interceptors. These missiles are produced by Raytheon Corporation and can be launched from the vessel and from the land base and the Deveselu. They can intercept short-range missiles or medium-range missiles in the middle or final phase of their trajectory. Can engage enemy missiles in outer space. No one knows exactly reach of these interceptors. SM-3 missile to destroy enemy rocket strikes, why does not contain explosive.

[5] http://www.businessinsider.com/russian-v-us-arms-imports-2015-4

[6] http://www.reportlinker.com/report-summary/Aerospace-And-Defence/83407/Missile-Industry-in-the-United-States.html

[7] http://sputniknews.com/europe/20160513/1039578197/poland-us-air-defense.html

Original file published by «New Defence Order. Strategy» / «Новый Оборонный Заказ. Стратегии», 2016, №3 (40)

 

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