The USA has ignored Russia's concerns. USS Monterey has appeared off Ukraine's coast on June 13th within the scope of Sea Breeze 2011 international naval exercises. The vessel is equipped with AEGIS sea-based missile defense system.
The news about the imminent participation of the vessel in the exercises triggered a very serious reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Official spokespeople for the ministry said that Moscow had several questions to ask over the appearance of the vessel near Ukraine.
"If it goes about a common visit in this extremely sensitive region, then why did they choose the ship with this variant of on-board weapons for it? What role will Monterey and its missiles play in the scenario of Sea Breeze 2011?" Russian officials asked.
The questions are quite reasonable, taking into consideration the fact that the exercises were organized to train counter-terrorist skills, as well as the actions related to the struggle against sea piracy. It is not really clear what an AEGIS ship has to do with these goals not to mention the fact that neither Al-Qaeda nor Somali pirates have intercontinental ballistic missiles.
A statement from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that Kiev did not see a threat from the exercises for the countries of the Black Sea region. Ukraine's foreign policy has changed after Yushchenko's departure, although the country is still interested in establishing strong cooperation with the West. It would be good to remind Kiev at this point that Ukraine's wish to revise prices on Russian natural gas and oil does not look very nice against such a background.
The reaction from the US State Department to Russia's concerns is much more interesting, though.
"They [Russians] are entitled to their opinion. I'm not going to parse the words of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and I'll have to get more details about this exercise," deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said when asked to comment on Russia's reaction.
"But we have a strong bilateral relationship with Ukraine, and it's in keeping with that kind of partnership that these exercises take place," he said.
It looks like the relations with Ukraine are much more important for Washington than the relations with Russia.
Konstantin Sivkov, the first vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that the USA was again trying to put pressure on Russia.
"The fact of putting military and psychological pressure on Russia is obvious. We received an openly rude response from American diplomats. They virtually told us that they don't care what we may think. They showed that they are not going to take Russia as a superpower.
"Russia has repeatedly expressed its concerns over the deployment of the missile defense system in Europe claiming that the system could be used against Russia. US and European officials were saying, though, that the system was being built to destroy non-existent Iranian ballistic missiles. However, NATO officials have recently stated that they could not guarantee the missile defense system would not be directed against Russia.
"On June 7 it was reported that NATO rejected Russia's offer to provide complete information to Moscow regarding the quantity, type and deployment locations of interceptor missiles and radar stations of the European missile defense system.
"The news did not come as a surprise to Russia. Russia lags too far behind the United States in terms of the military development. The Americans thus openly say that they are not intended to take Russia's opinions into consideration. The reaction from the US State Department reflects the real balance of forces.
"One should also bear in mind the military and technical aspect of the participation of the AEGIS ship in the exercises. The Americans need to train their skills on the possible scene of operations. Geographical conditions of separate regions change the characteristic aspects of counteraction considerably. Such factors as waves, currents, etc, are extremely important," the specialist said.
Russia and the USA are reducing their strategic nuclear arsenals. However, the Americans actively strengthen their missile defense still. If the States launch an orbital group to intercept ballistic missiles in space, the new system will easily minimize Russia's air defense.
Now the Americans prefer not to notice Russia's reactions at all. What will Moscow do in return? Moscow has recently warned the West against taking single-handed actions towards the deployment of the missile defense system in Europe. Russia even threatened to pull out from the START-3 treaty, but it seems that the USA does not really care.
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