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Poles, Czechs stand up to Russian bullying over missile defence

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02/27/2007 02:27 PM
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Poles, Czechs stand up to Russian bullying over missile defence
Poles, Czechs Meet Putin At Reykjavik
Resolve Of The Past Emerges In Today's Missile Defense Debate

[link to commentary.threatswatch.org]

By Steve Schippert

In Sunday’s Boston Herald, an excellent editorial lauded the Czechs and the Poles for not backing down to Russia’s threats over the stationing of a missile defense system on their soil. Both countries, now NATO members, remember well Moscow’s relentless grip on their peoples before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Russia currently is doing their best to rekindle the threatening resolve of Nikita Khrushchev in opposition to the Czechs and Poles hosting an American anti-missile defense system intended to protect Europe from a potential threat from Iran’s progressing missile and nuclear programs. And the Poles and Czechs simply refuse to be bullied or blackmailed by their former masters.

The Czechs and the Poles have agreed to host anti-missile installations to guard against possible attacks from Iran. The plan calls for 10 interceptor missiles to be based in Poland and their radar guidance system in the Czech Republic.

If the installations go forward, said Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of Russia’s missile forces, his troops “will be able to have those facilities as targets.” Earlier, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff, said Russia could withdraw from the intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which bans the basing of offensive missiles in Europe.

“You have to make it clear to them you won’t succumb to blackmail,” said the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Amen.

The missile defense system is absolutely no threat to the Russians, unless of course they intend on launching a missile attack on or over Europe. Even then, the system planned is small and intended to defend against a limited attack from Iran. Such a ten missile defense system could be easily overwhelmed by a Russian salvo.

The Boston Herald editorial concluded right on point, asserting that Russia cannot claim to be surprised, as they were informed by NATO this past fall. The vociferous Russian objection, it says, “appears to be part of the anti-American rhetorical campaign of President Vladimir Putin, a campaign whose ultimate aim is, as it so often is with Russia, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

Or perhaps not so mysterious, as there is clarity in the company they keep.

Palestinian terrorist group Hamas’ leader Khaled Meshaal praised Russia for working to end the embargo on the Hamas-led PA. It should also not be lost on observers Russia’s actions after Meshaal’s terrorist organization won majority representation in Palestinian elections one year ago. While the West was cutting funding to a PA now run by a terrorist organization, Russia invited Hamas leaders to Moscow and initially pledged to provide 50 armored personnel carriers and two helicopters to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, a pledge it backed away from under pressure.

Meshaal maintains his terrorist headquarters in Syria, to whom Russia is set to deliver thousands of anti-tank missiles. Syria may be in short supply of anti-tank missiles since Hizballah’s war with Israel. The Syrian-supported terrorist group in Lebanon had large supplies of Russian-design Kornet AT-14 and Metis AT-13 anti-tank weapons on hand and used them to eliminate Merkava tanks and to fire them into buildings containing IDF soldiers. Russia also manned listening posts in Syria during the Hizballah-Israel war this past summer, funneling information of IDF movements to Hizballah in southern Lebanon.

Hizballah is a creation of Iran’s Qods Force, largely led, fed and directed from Tehran and, as Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah said himself, “And [Iran’s] help is funneled through Syria, and everybody knows it.” In fact, the world’s two principal state sponsors of terrorism Iran [$1.7B] and Syria [$800M] were Russia’s top two weapons clients from 2002 to 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service. While Israel purchased $300M as well, this was represented primarily by the sale of Il-76 early warning aircraft of little defense against the terror war being prosecuted against them by Russian-supplied Syria and Iran.

Of course, larger Russian systems are not out of the question for either of the terror sponsors. Considering Russia’s extensive nuclear and missile technology assistance to Iran, including the ongoing construction of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility, the relationship between the atheistic Russian state and the Iranian theocracy can be considered somewhat an enigma on its face. Even still, with another UNSC enrichment cessation deadline ignored, as a participant in the ‘P5+1’ talks on Iran’s continued intransigence, Russia questions the ‘usefulness’ of more Iran sanctions over its nuclear program.

Russia is not only building and assisting Iran’s nuclear facilities, it is defending them with Russian TOR-M1 missiles, purchased recently under a $700 million contract with the mullah regime despite Western protests.

It is the ballistic missile technology provided to Iran by Russia as well as China and North Korea that the Europeans seek a modicum of defense from - to say nothing of the Iranian sprint to tip them with nuclear warheads. The system’s willing hosts with fresh memories of brutal Soviet dominance, the Czech Republic and Poland are clearly not Iran and Syria. Putin’s Russia, on the other hand, is still Russia.

The Czechs and Poles have met Putin at Reykjavik. Faced with a Russia demanding they not defend themselves, their leaders seem to have summoned up a great resolve from the past and reported to the Polish and Czech peoples, “This we could not and would not do.” And they, too, said “No,” and went home.

February 27, 2007 2:12 AM