Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the deployment of U.S. missile defense components in Romania means that Russia would have to respond with retaliatory measures.
Earlier this month, the Department of Defense announced the inauguration of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense site in Deveselu, Romania. The site is located in a former Romanian airbase and is reportedly meant to address the development and deployment of ballistic missiles by Iran.
According to Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, Iran has been “very aggressive” when it comes to ballistic missile development in recent times and for the 28-member NATO alliance, this can spell out trouble.
The inauguration ceremony meant that the Deveselu site has been given operation certification. It is equipped with radar and interceptors that can readily provide ballistic-missile deterrent coverage to all of southern Europe. The Aegis Ashore site is actually part of NATO’s larger ballistic missile system with the Aegis ballistic missile defense system providing land-based capability.
In response to the development of the Aegis site in Romania, Putin announced in a press conference, “We will be forced to react in the proper way. Before, certain parts of the Romanian territory were unaware of what it is like to be a target. Today we will have to take certain measures to maintain our security.”
According to Russian news agency TASS, Putin also pointed out that the missiles in Romania currently have a range of 500 kilometers. However, this can extend to 1,000 kilometers in several years time. “What is still worse, these compact systems may be armed with attack missiles right away. And these missiles have a range of 2,400 kilometers,” he further explained.
From the beginning, the U.S. has been quick to explain that the Aegis site is not something that Russia has to worry about. Work stressed, “This site, nor the site in Poland, has any capability — none whatsoever — to undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent. It is a defensive system. It is fully compliant with existing arms control regimes.”
The deputy Defense secretary also pointed out that Moscow is aware that geography and physics mean it is “impossible” for the Aegis system to undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent. Moreover, Work also said that Russian officials are aware that the system is not directed at Russia.