By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times
Seldom it is that the Russian Foreign Ministry chooses a Sunday to issue a formal statement. Evidently, something of extreme gravity arose for Moscow to speak out urgently. The provocation was the appearance of a United States guided missile cruiser in the Black Sea for naval exercises with Ukraine. The USS Monterrey cruiser equipped with the AEGIS air defense system is taking part in joint Ukrainian-US exercises, Sea Breeze 2011.
There is nothing extraordinary about a US-Ukraine naval exercise. Last year, too, an exercise took place. But, as Moscow posed, "While leaving aside the unsettled issue of a possible European missile shield architecture, Russia would like to know, in compliance with the Russia-NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] Lisbon summit decisions, what 'aggravation' the US command meant by moving the basic strike unit of the regional missile defense grouping being formed by NATO in the region, from the Mediterranean to the East?"
The Foreign Ministry statement then went on to give its own explanation that the Monterrey was sent to European waters as part of the US administration's phased adaptive approach to building the European segment of the global missile shield. The program's first stage envisages the deployment of a group of US warships in the Adriatic, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas to protect South Europe from possible missile strikes. The role of the US warship's missiles in the Sea Breeze 2011 anti-piracy exercises is also unclear, the statement said.
"We have to state that our concerns continue to be ignored and under the guise of talks on European missile shield cooperation, efforts are under way to build the missile shield configuration whose consequences are dangerous and about which we have numerously informed our US and NATO partners," the Russian statement added.
The US claims that this is a routine naval exercise. On the other hand, Moscow asks: "If this is an ordinary visit, then it is unclear why a warship with this type of armament was chosen to move to this quite sensitive region."
Thursday, June 16, 2011
By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times
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