Those Crazy Ruskies

Russia’s top military official warned on May 3 that Russia would consider a preemptive strike on US and NATO ballistic missile defenses in Eastern Europe if the United States and its NATO allies did not take Russian concerns over their presence into consideration, according to press reports. “A decision to use destructive force preemptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” stated Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov at an international missile defense conference in Moscow attended by senior US and NATO officials, reported the Los Angeles Times. Makarov said Russia might decide to station short-range missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave near Poland as “one possible way of incapacitating the European missile defense infrastructure,” reported Radio Free Europe. US and NATO officials maintain that the European BMD system would defend against Iranian missiles aimed at Europe, and could not take out Russian ICBMs. “We’ve made clear for many years now that there’s no intent, desire, or capability to undermine the Russian strategic deterrent,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner during a briefing in Washington, D.C., after Makarov made his comments. “There’s no reason for Russia to take military countermeasures to missile defenses that will not affect the strategic balance between the United States and Russia,” added Toner. (Toner transcript)