The United States’ nuclear missile defence shield continues to spark controversy in Poland and the Czech Republic, where the governments are determined to install it in the teeth of opposition from the local populations. Russia is hotly opposed to it and is to take countermeasures.
Luke Harding says in The Guardian that Russia has threatened to withdraw from a treaty signed by Gorbachev in 1990 under which Russia agreed to scrap much of its military hardware in Europe and limit the number of troops stationed on its northern and southern flanks. Putin said that, since Nato had failed to implement its side of the bargain, Russia would suspend implementation of the treaty until the other side was complying with its obligations. This will enable Russia to keep troops in areas such as Georgia and Moldova, and to conduct military exercises without consulting Nato countries. (‘Putin threatens to scrap weapons treaty in row over US missiles’, 27 April 2007)
Meanwhile, local mayors in villages throughout the Czech Republic have been calling polls among villagers to establish whether they want the shields to be constructed near their villages. For example in Trokavec (pop 97), some 50 miles west of Prague, in the area where America plans to install half its missile defence shield infrastructure, and a mile away from the proposed site of a radar intended to guide interceptors against alleged threats of retaliation by North Korea or Iran, the village mayor, Jan Neoral, held a referendum a month ago to gauge local feelings. Seventy two of the 97 residents voted, and 71 voted against the plan, with the other vote belonging to an elderly resident who checked the wrong box on the ballot by mistake.
Several other mayors in surrounding villages have followed suit, and in every case there has been a large majority against the shields, mainly because it is seen as primarily directed against Russia and the villagers don’t really want to be in the middle of it were Russia and the US to come to blows.