Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2009

Controversies over missile defense in Europe

Raimo Väyrynen

April 2009

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


The plan to deploy an anti-missile system in Central Europe has been one of the most controversial security policy issues in the past few years. The Bush Administration pushed hard for the deployment of the radar site in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland, largely because it would provide an additional layer in the global anti-ballistic missile defense of the United States. In both of these countries, public opinion has been against the deployments and the governments have had to negotiate between external and internal pressures pushing them in different policy directions. Russia has been adamantly opposed to the missile defense plan, issuing both threats and suggesting alternative ways to diminish the threat that the United States feels from Iran. The result has been a political stalemate that has further complicated otherwise tense relations between Moscow and Washington, D.C. With the arrival of the Obama Administration, there is a pause in the missile dispute, but no permanent resolution of the conflict is in sight.