Not that Bad After All?

Russia and NATO are deeply divided over alliance ballistic missile defense plans, but the situation isn’t as dire as Russia’s rhetoric would indicate, said French air force Gen. Stéphane Abrial, NATO’s supreme allied commander transformation. “There is a fundamental disagreement in the possible impact of missile defense” on Russia’s nuclear deterrent, Abrial told reporters in Washington D.C., May 8. Speaking at an international missile defense conference last week, Russia’s top military officer said his country would consider preemptively striking NATO’s missile shield “if the situation worsens.” Addressing the remark, Abrial said he believed Russian Gen. Nikolai Makarov’s remarks meant that “in case of a crisis with tensions rising, they might consider the possibility of a preemptive strike.” Abrial said he didn’t think the comment was as bellicose as it sounds. “It’s not just, ‘You don’t listen to me, so I hit,’—no, it’s not that bad,” clarified Abrial. He added that the “misunderstanding” over whether the NATO missile defense system—aimed at defending against missiles fired from Iran—upsets the strategic balance “is still with us, but we are working on it.”