Sunday

22nd Sep 2019

Russian missiles pose new threat to Europe

  • Russian armour on parade in Moscow in 2015 (Photo: Dmitriy Fomin)

The US and Germany have criticised Russia over new missile deployments that posed a threat to Nato and Europe.

“The Russians have deployed a land-based cruise missile that violates the spirit and intent of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces [INF] treaty,” Paul Selva, a senior US general who advises the White House, told a House committee in Washington on Wednesday (8 March), referring to a Cold War-era agreement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“The system … presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to Nato and to facilities within the Nato area of responsibility,” he added.

“They do not intend to return to [INF] compliance,” he said.

State department spokesman Mark Toner told press the same day: “We do believe they’re in violation [of INF].”

“We have conveyed that [to Russia] … they’re quite clear that - of our concerns,” he said.

The German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, also on Wednesday raised the alarm on Russia’s deployment of Iskander ballistic missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

"If Iskander missiles were stationed in Kaliningrad permanently, that would be a cause for great concern and a blow to European security," he told Russia’s state-run Interfax news agency.

Russia installed the rockets, which could hit Berlin, during a military drill in the exclave last year.

Kaliningrad also hosts 25,000 Russian soldiers, anti-air and anti-ship missiles that restrict Nato movements in the Baltic region, and two nuclear-capable warships.

Stephen W. Wilson, the deputy-chief of the US air force, told the House hearing that “in terms of nuclear capabilities, Russia is our only peer, and will likely remain so in the coming decades”.

“Russia’s continued aggression and provocations, its demonstrated willingness to violate the sovereignty of its neighbours, and its disregard for its international commitments, poses a clear threat to global stability,” he added.

Robert Kehler, a retired US air force general, the same day told a Senate committee that he did not believe there was a threat of war, but said that Russia’s nuclear sabre-rattling caused concern.

“I believe the likelihood of a massive surprise nuclear attack is low today,” he said.

“I am troubled by statements from Russia and elsewhere that describe the possible limited use of nuclear weapons in regional conflicts,” he added.

Senior diplomats from Poland and the Baltic states gave US senators equally gloomy assessments of Russia’s aggressive behaviour in Europe earlier this week.

Adrian Bradshaw, a UK general who is Nato’s second-in-command in Europe, told British media last week that the West needed a “grand strategy” to deter Russia.

“The threat from Russia is that through opportunism and mistakes and a lack of clarity regarding our deterrence we find ourselves sliding into an unwanted conflict which has existential implications,” he said.

Russia has said that Nato’s deployment of a rapid reaction force of some 5,000 soldiers in the Baltic region posed a threat to its security.

But Gabriel dismissed that claim in his Interfax interview, saying the Nato force was tiny compared to Russia’s military build-up in the region.

“Germany and other Nato states were not the first to go into the Baltic area,” he said.

Interview

Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe

Russia’s intervention in Libya is designed to surround Europe in a “great game” of geostrategy, Italy’s former military chief has said.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us