19:49 GMT +326 February 2017
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    U.S. missile shield in Europe bad for all sides

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov) - The United States and the Czech Republic have signed an agreement on the deployment of a missile tracking radar.

    Theoretically the Czech parliament could refuse to ratify the document, or the new U.S. administration could change its worldview, or Congress could refuse to approve allocations. But the likelihood of any of these things happening is almost zero.

    The deal is as good as done, and Russia should now draw conclusions from it.

    First, it has failed to convince the Untied States, the European Union, NATO and the West as a whole that this is a dangerous and wrong decision. Worse still, its failure to do so was predictable.

    Russia played a losing game forced on it by its opponents. Why? The only explanation that comes to mind is that it wanted future historians to say, "Moscow was right." However, it could have argued its position and used the efforts and money it spent trying to dissuade Washington from this course more effectively in other, more promising foreign policy avenues.

    Second, Russia's embryonic democracy cannot be considered a formidable opponent. But the western, and in particular European, democracy, which Russia was encouraged to emulate, has apparently degenerated. The Czech authorities calmly signed the agreement although 75% of their people protested it. Poland has not signed a similar agreement to host interceptor missiles only because the sides are still haggling over the price, disregarding the opinion of ordinary Poles.

    Europe continues to preach democracy to Russia, although its own democracy is badly in need of repair. When European voters rejected the common constitution, the EU leaders overruled their decision by approving a Reform Treaty, essentially an abridged form of the constitution under a different name.

    In short, the implications are bad for everyone, for the United States as the mainstay of democracy, for Europe, and for democracy itself, as well as for Russia, which is only trying to develop democracy.

    Third, the deployment of missile defense systems on the Russian border will close the era in global history that began with Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost.

    The first and only Soviet president approved the demolition of the Berlin Wall, initiated no-tie meetings, called Bill Clinton and Helmut Kohl "friends," and in general made all kinds of imaginable and unimaginable concessions to the West, all for a smile, a pat on the shoulder and the questionable honor of calling western leaders his pals.

    Meanwhile, hopes gave way to embarrassment and then disillusion. I hope we have now come to our senses.

    I have said this before, but I have to say it again: The Soviet period in Russia's history and relations with its neighbors was very short historically. Relations between Russia and the West have never been easy or simple, so we were bound to return to the old path after the euphoria of getting out of the Bolshevik gutter.

    We have done this, but it does not mean confrontation is inevitable. It only means we are back on the same old seesaw, with short warm spells in relations with the West replaced by cool periods, and so on, like seasons.

    And the fourth, and last, conclusion: the current situation in Russia is unquestionably much better than during the rule of President Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), when aircraft rusted on the ground, equipment was never improved but widely pilfered, and the money-starved defense sector produced pots and pans.

    But we can and must do more, both to improve the lot of men and officers, and upgrade the quality of weapons and military equipment, especially those that will have to vie with the U.S. missile shield in Europe.

    It is good news that the Su-35 super-fighter, an interim model between the fourth- and fifth-generation warplanes, has made its maiden flight. But the United States is already mass-producing its F-22 with stealth technology.

    We are rightfully proud of the S-400 air defense system, but there are too few of them on combat duty.

    We are exporting weapons en masse, forgetting that our own armed forces need them.

    The U.S. missile defense system will become a threat to Russia, not immediately but in the not too distant future, especially in view of the funds Washington intends to invest in the system's development. However, we still have some time left to work on our response, which must include strengthening the defense industry and reviewing our foreign and domestic policies.

    We need strong partners and must do our best to win them. We must also complement cutting-edge military equipment with citizens who are willing and capable of protecting their homeland. Only people who are proud of their country can do that, and instilling such sentiments is one more, final, challenge.

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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