U.S. and NATO Should Reject Russian Demands on Missile Defense

Baker Spring /

According to The New York Times, Russia is seeking written guarantees that missile defense systems deployed in Europe by the U.S. and NATO in the future will not threaten Russia. The U.S., NATO, and Russia are in the midst of negotiations regarding the broader topic of missile defense cooperation.

On the face of it, it would appear that the Russian demand is reasonable, because missile defense systems are not offensive and inherently pose no threat to the territory of any state. Surface appearances, however, are deceiving—because Russian statements last year, specifically in the context of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), define missile defense systems as a “threat” to Russia if they are capable of countering Russian offensive missiles. On this basis, the U.S. and NATO should reject the Russian demand for written assurances.

There are two reasons why the U.S. and NATO should reject this Russian demand. The first has to do with finding new, post-Cold War foundations for strategic stability. The second has to do with the capabilities of missile defense systems to handle a variety of different threats. (more…)