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Trump's Missile Shield Enthusiasm Will Prove a Giant Stumbling Block to 'Good Deals' With Russia

You can't work toward your first strike capability and treat with Russia in friendship at the same time 

Trump says he wants to see if he can strike some "good deals" with Russia. But he is also a giant fan of the anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe and South Korea which he claims is there to counter North Korea and Iran.  In fact he promises to greatly bolster and expand the project.

Writing for Asia Times the ex-Indian diplomat MK Bhadrakumar correctly points out this goes against Russia's most basic security needs: 

Russia will not accept this argument. Russia (and China) views ABM deployment as part of containment strategy to deny ‘second strike capability’. Given the US’ superiority in conventional military strength, ‘second strike capability’ becomes non-negotiable for Russia.

Indeed, its capacity to ensure global strategic balance hinges on ‘second strike capability’. (Moscow and Beijing recently agreed to develop ‘joint counter-measures’ against ABM systems and analysts view their plan to establish a joint space center in Russian Far East from such a perspective.)

There is no way that Russia can accept that the shield is not aimed against it, and not respond with some kind of build up of strike capabilities of its own.

Russian foreign minister Lavrov said as much.

After Trump said a few days ago he will be looking to cut nukes with Russia, Lavrov responded by saying nuclear missiles are just one aspect of the larger issue which for Russia includes the Ballistic Missile Defence system:

As for nuclear weapons, strategic stability and nuclear and strategic parity, this is a key issue in Russian-US relations … we must keep in mind absolutely all factors that influence strategic stability, and there are many factors besides nuclear weapons.

They include strategic conventional weapons, including hypersonic weapons that can destroy targets in any part of the world within an hour even without nuclear warheads. Those who have these weapons do not need nuclear weapons.

The second factor is the Ballistic Missile Defence system, which is changing the strategic balance. We need to negotiate this issue, so that any changes in strategic balance will not destabilize the situation.

One more thing that influences strategic stability is the space militarization plans of the current and previous US administrations. There are also other variables, including the US refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

All these factors … influence global strategic balance and parity. 

The attachment of US presidents to the missile shield project played a prominent role in ruining US-Russian relations in the era of Obama and Walker Bush, and was an obstacle to even more comprehensive Soviet-American nuke deals in the Reagan era. Trump is bent on following the same path.

If anything this is a recipe for how to bring Russia and China, who both see the shield as directed against them, even closer together.

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