The Guardian 28 February, 2007

A new Cold War?
US prepares for war against Russia

Speaking to the US House of Representatives on February 7, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace said: "I think we need the full range of military capabilities. We need both the ability for regular force-on-force conflicts because we don’t know what’s going to develop in places like Russia and China, in North Korea, in Iran and elsewhere."

Chairman Pace made this statement during hearings in the US House Committee on Armed Services, when congress members were discussing the United States’ military budget for 2008.

The US Defense Secretary thinks that American armed forces must be ready for a large-scale war commented an Associated Press report.

In another sign of Washington’s increasingly hostile policies towards Moscow is Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World survey, where this US government-funded advocacy group placed Russia in the "not free" category, alongside North Korea, Cuba and Libya — countries where the US is waging or considering military action.

Leonid Ivashov, Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, interpreted the latest US moves in the area of missile defence as an offensive on Russia’s strategic interests. He specifically cited the deployment of US interceptor missiles around Russia’s borders and the creation of a radar and space reconnaissance system.

Missile treaty scrapped

In December 2001, President Bush announced the US would unilaterally pull out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, signed with the Soviet Union during the "Cold War" era, saying it hindered his government’s ability to protect the nation from future terrorist or missile attacks by rogue states. "The Americans withdrew from the ABM treaty precisely to restore full control over the strategic nuclear potentials of Russia and China", said Leonid Ivashov.

Washington has also recently moved its largest sea-based missile defense radar in the Pacific from Hawaii to the Aleutian Islands, not far from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

It has announced plans to install a radar system in the Czech Republic and a missile interceptor site in Poland, which it says it needs to protect itself against a potential threat from Iran.

Sergei Markov, director of the Institute for Political Research believes the United States views Russia as a potential adversary.

"We can see that Russia is increasingly perceived [by the US] as a potential foe", he said, explaining that Washington tends to build its missile defense shields near countries whose political regimes it deems dangerous for its own security.

Vasily Likhachev, deputy head of the International Affairs Committee in Russia’s Federal Council (upper house of parliament), said the deployment of US missile shields close to Russian borders is intended as a political weapon against Moscow.

"It is not as much about the Bush Administration’s self-promotion to boost ratings as it is about [creating] a system of ideological and political pressure on Russia and its allies", he said.

"Is it the ‘Cold War’ in a 21st-century packaging, or just some elements of it? That’s a subject for further reflection. But this much is clear: the West is not ready for full-fledged cooperation with Russia."

New arms race

In response to these developments Gleb Pavlovsky, an influential political adviser to the Russian president, warned that "This surely is the beginning of an arms race in some sense. [It] is all the more unjustified given that Russia has never, not on a single issue, expressed an intention to confront the US or to deter it."

Ivashov said Russia had to neutralize the US threat. Otherwise, he said, "Russia may end up cornered in the north, and it will become a tiny Nordic country."

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