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25th Anniversary of the Lithuanian and Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s participation in the State Partnership Program in downtown Vilnius, Lithuania, June 10, 2018. Credit: Dvids

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought major theater war to Europe on a scale not seen since World War II. As we both console and support our Ukrainian partners, we also plan to prevent and roll-back what has transpired over the past year with the hostile, brutal, and unprovoked attacks by Russia on the independent nation of Ukraine. Now NATO, as a collective body of 30 nations, must directly and specifically address Russia as an existential threat to Europe. Russia’s deadly, and at times, indiscriminate attacks using all forms of missiles, long range rockets, and both unmanned platforms against the sovereign nation of Ukraine is a clear demonstration of what is next for NATO, if it stands idle. There must be a call to action for a NATO Missile Defense Design specifically against the Russian threat, with an Open and Secure Architecture to enable participation of all NATO nations should they choose. NATO has invested billions in collective missile defense and put forward the European Phased Adaptive Approach policy against an Iranian Ballistic Missile threat that is not even close to the magnitude of the Russian missile threat to NATO. 

The opportunity to address this issue presents itself at the upcoming NATO Summit at Vilnius, Lithuania from July 11-12, 2023. 

Listed below our MDAAs talking points on suggested Policy to be implemented by NATO.

NATO Policy on Missile Defense

•      Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reminds us of the threat facing the Alliance. Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine one year ago, we have seen the return of war in Europe on a scale not seen since World War II. 

•      Missiles have been a primary weapon for Russia in this conflict. Russia has launched thousands of missiles (ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic) and drones at Ukraine, including heavy use of such weapons against cities causing substantial civilian casualties.  

•      NATO must be prepared to defend its people, territory, and military forces from Russia and have the capabilities to defend against the type of weapons and warfare tactics that Russia is employing in Ukraine. 

•      The Alliance must also be prepared to defend against greater threats that Vladimir Putin has made, such as threats to strike NATO territory in retaliation for support to Ukraine and threats to employ nuclear weapons. Putin’s ambitions to recreate the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union and its domination of its neighbors is clear. Given the scale of destruction unleased by Putin in Ukraine, it would be irresponsible not to take seriously his threats to escalate the conflict to include other states and NATO territory.

•      We have also seen errant missiles fired by Russa land in NATO territory. The risk of intentional or accidental missile strikes on the territory of NATO member states from Russia continues to increase as the Russian armed forces continue to struggle and Putin considers escalatory steps.

•      NATO current missile defense policy does not reflect this new reality and the capabilities of the Alliance are insufficient to address this threat. Current Alliance policy and capabilities remain oriented on the missile threat from Iran, which is one of the few states to partner with Russia to supply key military aid and capabilities used to attack Ukraine.

•      NATO’s missile defense policy should state that the Alliance will defend its people, territory, and military forces against missile attack from any source. Missile defenses are purely defensive capabilities and should missiles be launched at targets in NATO Member States, the Alliance will use its current missile defense capabilities to defend against such attacks.

•      Russian opposition to NATO possessing greater missile defense capabilities is driven by a desire to possess a key military advantage that could be employed against NATO states in the same way Russia has used missiles for large scale attacks in Ukraine.

•      The upcoming NATO Heads of State and Government meeting in Lithuania is well timed and located for the Alliance to take meaningful steps toward a policy of defending against missile attacks from any source.

•      First, a display of missile defense military capabilities used by Member states on Lithuanian soil would send a signal to Russia that the Alliance is willing to extend the full measure of Alliance defense capabilities to all Member States, including those that Russia considers part of the former Soviet Union like Lithuania.

•      Images of Heads of State and Government with a showcase of the missile defense systems used by Member states in Lithuania will send a powerful signal to Russia and its partners like Iran.

•      Secondly, Heads of State and Government should agree that the Alliance will conduct missile defense exercises in Poland and Romania in 2024 to improve Alliance capabilities and foster greater integration and ability of current Alliance missile defense capabilities to work together. The exercises should be based on a realistic scenario in which Russia decides to use missiles in attacks in retaliation for NATO support to Ukraine.

•      Third, the Alliance should agree that the NATO Military Committee will formally study the capabilities needed to defend against the type and scale of Russian missile attack employed in Ukraine and will identify capability shortfalls.

•      Fourth, NATO Defense Ministers shall meet to receive an interim report by the Military Committee within 6 months. The Military Committee shall complete its report and recommendations on steps needed to fill capability and integration gaps by the next Heads of State and Government meeting in one year. 

•      Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and heavy use of missiles as a primary method of warfare in this conflict demonstrates that the missile threat facing the Alliance is a real and present danger. 

•      Given these clear warnings and indicators, history will not look kindly on the leaders of the Alliance should a missile attack occur on NATO territory that the Alliance is unprepared to defend against. It is imperative that the Alliance adopt new policy and take concrete steps to move toward addressing the growing missile threat. 

It is imperative that the Alliance adopt new policies and take concrete steps to more aggressively field missile defense capabilities with the capacity and architecture to deter and defeat continued Russian aggression. 

Below is the link to our recent virtual on Ensuring Effective Integrated Missile Defense Architecture with our Allies and Partners from February 24.

Virtual Transcript

Roundtable Video

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.