Monday

22nd Jan 2018

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.

US to scrap missile shield in eastern Europe

US government officials are likely to tell the Polish and Czech governments on Thursday that Washington will scrap the planned missile defence shield in their countries, as the threat of long-range missiles from Iran is less imminent.

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