As American and allied officials celebrated the opening of a long-awaited missile defense system in Europe with a ribbon cutting and a band, the reaction in Moscow on Thursday was darker: a public discussion of how nuclear war might play out in Europe and the prospect that Romania, the host nation for the United States-built system, might be reduced to “smoking ruins.”
“We have been saying right from when this story started that our experts are convinced that the deployment of the ABM system poses a certain threat to the Russian Federation,” the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters in a conference call.
“Measures are being taken to ensure the necessary level of security for Russia,” he said. “The president himself, let me remind you, has repeatedly asked who the system will work against.”
The United States has asserted that the anti-ballistic missile system would protect only against “rogue” states, particularly Iran, and provide no protection for either Europe or the United States from Russia’s far larger arsenal of nuclear missiles. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization site will be controlled by an American officer.
The system, called Aegis Ashore, was essentially transferred from a seaborne launchpad onto land in Romania, at the Deveselu air base. The United States on Friday planned to break ground on a second site, in Poland, that should be completed in 2018. But a deputy United States defense secretary, Robert Work, reiterated Thursday there are “no plans at all” to strengthen this missile umbrella to protect against Russia.
In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Russian defense experts consider the site a threat.