Russian President Vladimir Putin all but threatened this summer to restart the Cold War over plans by the United States to install missile interceptors in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic to counter potential missile attacks launched by Iran.
Putin said if the United States goes ahead with its plans to install a missile shield in Eastern Europe, Russia would retaliate by aiming missiles at Europe. "Of course, we will have to get new targets in Europe," Putin said.
The Russian president followed up with a proposal to add a Russian radar system to the U.S. missile shield when he met in July with President Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine. "In this case there would be no need to place any more facilities in Europe, such as the radar in the Czech Republic and the missile base in Poland," Putin said.
Bush did not buy that, and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is moving forwrd with a five-year, $4 billion project to build a missile interceptor site in Poland and a mid-course radar site in the Czech Republic, according to the report on the House version of the 2008 Defense bill, which the House Appropriations Committee passed last week.
MDA asked for $310 million in funding for the European sites, but the House committee, maybe in a nod to Putin, slashed that by $139 million,"given the uncertainty surrounding the program of this writing," according to the report.
The committee also pointed out that the MDA's five-year projected budget ignores other funding issues, including infrastructure costs for barracks, family housing and personnel costs for manning the new facilities.
Hey, when you're putting together a $4 billion system it's easy to forget some of the minor details such as personnel and housing.