Saturday, August 23, 2008

Russia's Threat to Nuke Poland

I heard news anchors on CNN say at least four times over the last week "Russia has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Poland!" (Because it is allowing the U.S. to put anti-ballistic missiles -ABMs- there).

My two reactions were: "Why isn't this a national emergency?" And "Gee, could it be they are misrepresenting what Russian leaders really said?" Which probably was something like, "in the event we think we are under attack, we will of course destroy the ABMs in Poland."

The results of my research on who said what is that Russian generals and politicians either are not being accurately quoted or they need to be more specific. But maybe being vague is part of the threat.

On August 15th, the Associated Press, quoting the Russian Interfax news agency, wrote that deputy chief of staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said: "Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent." And he added that Russia's military doctrine approves the use of nuclear weapons "against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them"-including those hosting ABMs. The government news outlet RussiaToday said only "The Colonel General said that if Poland allows part of the U.S. missile defence shield on its territory, it will expose itself to a strike."

According to the Washington Times the Russian Defense Ministry later "renewed threats" because it believed the missile system would not have "any target other than Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles," and that the system would be "broadened and modernized." (In other words you start with 10 missiles aimed at Russia and end up with 1000.) "In this case Russia will be forced to react, and not only through diplomatic" channels. The ministry web page didn't provide the full statement that I could find. It also stated it would "freeze all military cooperation with NATO and allied countries."

Yeah, the Russian bear is miffed. As Pat Buchanan wrote in BlowBack From Bear-Baiting:

"How would we have reacted if Moscow had brought Western Europe into the Warsaw Pact, established bases in Mexico and Panama, put missile defense radars and rockets in Cuba, and joined with China to build pipelines to transfer Mexican and Venezuelan oil to Pacific ports for shipment to Asia? And cut us out? If there were Russian and Chinese advisers training Latin American armies, the way we are in the former Soviet republics, how would we react? Would we look with bemusement on such Russian behavior?"

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