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The shield ratified by the Czech Senate. Another possible solution?

(B2) If the Czech Republic has taken a step forward in setting up the US anti-missile shield – with the ratification of the agreements made with the Americans by the Senate – two major unknowns remain in the realization of this project: the position of the Obama administration, the Russian reaction.

The Czech Senate has ratified, Thursday, the agreements concluded between the Czech Republic and the United States for the installation of an American radar on the Czech territory. The debate lasted four hours according to our Czech colleagues. The majority of senators (49 votes out of 81 present, i.e. the necessary constitutional majority) expressed themselves in favor of the agreement in principle relating to the actual location of the radar base, as well as thesupplementary agreement SOFA on the
conditions of stay of American military personnel in the Czech Republic. To enter into force, these agreements must still be ratified by the Chamber of Deputies – where there is no unanimity, even within the government coalition (conservative, liberal and green) and signed by the President of the Republic , Václav Klaus.

Hands in the Obama administration. Afterwards, the new Obama administration will still have to want to carry out this project started by the previous administration. Which is more or less uncertain. The Democrat's advisors, then in the campaign, had affirmed that the continuation of the program would be linked to its usefulness. According to several American experts, such as Andrew Kuchins, of CSIS (a think tank close to the Democrats), the new administration would not completely renounce the anti-missile shield and the agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic will not be denounced. But it would undoubtedly be reoriented. Or at least the Russian side would be more involved than today. This was the feeling of the head of Polish diplomacy, R. Sikorski, after his meeting in September with the man who was still only a candidate for the presidency. Barack Obama agrees on “the principle of a shield, only on the condition that it is not directed against Russia” he then explained.

Russia always opposed. What other solution? Failing to continue on the same path (bilateral agreements USA-Poland, USA-Czech Republic) – a path which increasingly raises questions even in Europe (see the comments of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy at the last EU-Russia summit on 14 November) - two avenues are possible:

1° the passage of this shield under the control of NATO – which would ultimately be logical – with more or less direct involvement of the Russians;
2° the establishment of a trilateral USA-NATO-Europe shield, with an ad hoc device. The Russians are campaigning in favor of this third solution, with joint use of the radars of Gabala, in Azerbaijan, and Armavir, in the south of Russia. A proposal made in June 2007, and recalled again recently (Friday), the Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan Vassili Istratov, according to our colleagues from Ria Novosti. Vladimir Putin, in a major speech on European security, Monday 25 in Saint Petersburg, made the anti-missile shield one of the main tests of a new desire for European partnership in matters of security. “If the new American administration refrains from deploying anti-missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, the question of retaliatory measures will no longer arise,” he said.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).