Comment by Russian MFA on Entry of US Anti-Missile Cruiser Monterey into Black Sea
The entry of the US Navy’s Aegis BMD-equipped Monterey cruiser into the Black Sea to participate in the Ukrainian-US Sea Breeze 2011exercises has raised several questions for us.
The Monterey was sent to European waters as part of the US administration’s Phased Adaptive Approach to building the European segment of its global missile defense system. Phase 1 provides for the deployment in the Adriatic, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas of a group of American ships meant to protect Southern Europe from hypothetical missile threats. According to the official US version, they can also be forward deployed to the Black Sea in case of need, such as aggravation of the situation in the region.
While leaving aside the unresolved question about the architecture of a possible European missile defense system as per the Russia-NATO Lisbon summit decisions, we would like to understand just what the US command meant by “aggravation” as it moved the main striking unit of the emerging territorial missile defense system of the North Atlantic Alliance from the Mediterranean to the east. If we are talking about the usual “visit” to this highly sensitive region, why did they choose a ship armed with this particular version of weapons? And what role was assigned to the Monterey anti-missiles by the scenario of the Sea Breeze 2011 exercise during which “an anti-piracy operation by NATO standards” was being tested and improved?
The Russian side has repeatedly stressed that we will not overlook the appearance of any elements of US strategic infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of our borders and will consider any such steps as a threat to our security. We are forced to admit that our concerns continue to be ignored and that under the guise of talk about cooperation on missile defense in Europe, efforts are under way to build the very anti-missile configuration about the dangerous consequences of which we have repeatedly warned our American and NATO partners. And it is being done demonstratively, as if to show Russia that no one is going to reckon with our opinion. Such an approach is clearly not conducive to the joint definition of the concept and architecture of a future missile shield in Europe as agreed in Lisbon and at the meetings of the presidents of Russia and the United States.
That such surprises already arise in the Adaptive Approach phase 1 attests to the high level of strategic uncertainty which the American missile defense program creates, so all the more reason to ask how much can we rely on the verbal assurances of its not being directed against Russia.
The “reconnaissance” by US anti-missile men of the Black Sea water area once again confirms the need for the elaboration of clear-cut legal guarantees that the missile defense facilities being deployed in Europe will not be directed against Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Such assurances must rest on objective criteria allowing evaluating whether the missile defense systems conform to the stated goal – to counter missile threats the sources of which would be placed outside of Europe. It is equally important to ensure the equal participation of Russia in the development of a concept and architecture of European missile defense and to provide for adequate transparency- and confidence-building measures.
We were prepared to come to an agreement in Deauville about all this. It is a pity that this has not happened. We will continue to seek full clarity to these critical issues in future negotiations with the United States and NATO.
June 12, 2011