The United States have decided not to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says a U.S. decision to shelve plans for a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland “is a positive step.”
This may well be true. Experts have long ago warned that missile defense is a highly political exercise with many technical challenges.
This leaves, however, the question about the US involvement in Eastern Europe open. Not long ago a group of intellectuals and former political leaders from Eastern Europe warned that Russia’s creeping intimidation and influence-peddling could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region.
We know that the US currently considers Russia an important partner, but also serious threat for US interests. We also know that there are expert calls for intensified US consultations with Russia as yet another European state.
This leaves the European Union in a precarious position of diverging interests and bilateral agreements. Yet some experts say that a focused and engaged neighbourhood policy is the most important tool for protecting EU interests. This resonates with the claim that the US will confront Moscow over its attempts to create a ‘sphere of influence’ in Eastern Europe.