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New arms race? Poland to spend fortune on missile defense

Published time: October 19, 2012 14:35
Edited time: October 19, 2012 18:38
US soldiers stand in front of a Patriot missile battery at an army base in the northern Polish town of Morag. (AFP Photo / Wojtek Radwanski)

US soldiers stand in front of a Patriot missile battery at an army base in the northern Polish town of Morag. (AFP Photo / Wojtek Radwanski)

Warsaw plans to expend up to US$400 million on the creation of its missile defense system as Russia promises to deploy weapons close to Poland’s borders in response to the proposed American AMD shield.

The US missile defense shield in Europe – which Russia sees as a threat to its national security – has been a bone of contention between Moscow and NATO. Washington claims there is no threat, but has refused to provide legally-binding guarantees that the system would not be used against Russia.

Moscow underlined that, though it has every capability of adequately responding to the shield’s deployment, it would prefer Washington's plans to be reviewed. No matter what terms the American side uses, the missile defense plan "is still an element of an arms race," President Vladimir Putin said earlier.

As part of the project, the US plans to station SM-3 missile interceptor site in Poland by 2018.

Russia in response announced it would deploy Iskander missiles systems in its westernmost region Kaliningrad (bordering Poland and Lithuania) to counter the threat. Earlier this year, a top Russian military official also raised the possibility of a possible pre-emptive strike on the European missile system if the US refuses a dialogue.

Warsaw considers the Russian move as “blackmailing which would have been impossible if Poland had powerful missile defense,” believes the head of the country’s National Security Bureau, General Koziej, reports Polish Gazeta Wyborcza paper.

There is another reason behind Poland’s decision to develop its own shield: missile attack is the most likely military threat in the modern world. In addition, the possibility of a single ballistic blow – when it is difficult to identify the aggressor – is highly likely, the Polish Security Bureau head observed. A prompt reaction would be necessary in case of such a scenario, while NATO would take its time and think before providing help to its member-state.

The preliminary concept of the project has already been developed, the paper writes. Under the plan, by 2023 Poland should be ready to repulse a missile attack against a group of its forces, cities or important facilities. Providing a shield for the whole territory of the country is not possible yet.

The system will be mobile and it will be integrated in to NATO missile defense. The alliance will be able to use it in case of a serious crisis.

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