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28th May 2022

US to abandon Polish-Czech missile shield, lobbyist says

The United States has all-but abandoned plans to house anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech republic, according to a senior White House lobbyist.

Riki Ellison, the chairman of the 10,000 member-strong Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza on Thursday (26 August) that the US has changed its mind to avoid a rift with Russia and is now looking at Israel, Turkey, the Balkans or ship-borne facilities instead.

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  • Barack Obama takes the podium in Prague in April (Photo: aic.cz)

"The signals given by generals from the Pentagon are clear: the current US government is looking for different solutions on the question of missile defence than Poland and the Czech republic," he said.

"The new [US] team is paying more attention to Russian arguments," he added.

"Obama's people believe that many problems in the world can be more easily solved together with Moscow ...it's a question of priorities. For many Democrats, the priority is disarmament and they are capable of sacrificing a lot in order to achieve a new agreement with Russia on the reduction of strategic [nuclear] weapons."

President Barack Obama ordered a review of the Bush-era missile shield plan shortly after coming into office this year.

He unveiled his vision for a nuclear weapons-free world at a major foreign policy speech in Prague in April, while sounding a note of scepticism over the value of the shield.

"As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defence system that is cost effective and proven," he said.

The multi-billion dollar project was to install 10 interceptor missiles at a facility in Poland and a radar base in the Czech republic. It also envisaged placing US Patriot missiles in Poland.

Russia said the scheme was aimed at degrading its nuclear capability and could trigger a new Cold War.

Many ordinary people in the Czech Republic also said they were against the shield in opinion polls.

But the Polish and Czech centre-right political elite saw it as US gold-plating of anti-Russian security guarantees offered by Nato.

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