Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Russian conspiracy theories

The Russian press, in this case the Pravda, was today once more active in its field of specialty: conspiracy theory. From the beginning of the discussions on the missile defense system Russian officials and the country’s press expressed fears that the system is directed against Russia. The Pravda took today another step and claimed that the United States plans to “encircle Russia with missile systems and radars”. According to the article, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency intends to add a mobile radar station in the Caspian region. The Vedemosti is more precise and identifies the radar as and X-band radar. The alleged reason for deploying such radar in the region is

“to track the launches of non-existent long-range Iranian missiles and monitor Russian test grounds in the Astrakhan Region and Kazakhstan, where new weapon systems are tested“.

The speculations continue that the U.S. radars are also being installed in the Far East and Mongolia. However, one point is omitted: not only is a part of the Russian landmass located in that region, but also China and DPRK. It might run counter to the Russian self-perception, but the Cold War is over and so is the bipolarity. Russia is no longer of the same preeminent strategic importance for the United States’ strategic planning as it used to be. Other actors have evolved – and they are located close to the Russian borders.
If the United States deploys the mentioned radars, tracking Russian launches might be a welcomed side-effect, but not the sole purpose. Instead re-activating Cold War rhetoric and habits Russia and the United States should work constructively on the issue.

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