Amid the protests and alleged bomb plots in Chicago over the weekend, NATO announced at its summit that its European missile shield is now up and running.
The anti-ballistic missile defense system is operating in an interim capability. U.S. warships in the Mediterranean armed with the Aegis anti-missile system will use a NATO radar system in Turkey to defend against long-range missiles.
It will, as of today, provide real protection for parts of NATO-Europe against ballistic missile attack, said Ivo Daalder, the U.S. permanent representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in a press conference on Sunday.
NATO's Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, Adm. Jim Stavridis, will command the missile shield in the near future. The full missile shield is set to be completed by 2018 and will be able to protect all of Europe.
In Lisbon, we agreed to create a NATO missile defense system. Today, in Chicago, we have declared that a reality, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated.
Our system will link together missile defense assets from different allies -- satellites, ships, radars and interceptors -- under NATO command and control. It will allow us to defend against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
This is true trans-Atlantic teamwork: the United States and European allies investing in our common security. And it is an excellent example of the renewed culture of cooperation which we call smart defense: countries working together to develop capabilities which they could not develop alone, he added, according to the Defence Management Journal.
Sunday's announcement will likely be met with concern in Russia. Moscow views the system as a threat, but NATO and U.S. President Barack Obama have tried to soothe the Kremlin's concerns over the shield, and at the summit NATO invited Russia to participate in the program.
NATO missile defense is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia's strategic deterrence capabilities, NATO's Chicago Summit Declaration states.
While regretting recurrent Russian statements on possible measures directed against NATO's missile defense system, we welcome Russia's willingness to continue dialogue with the purpose of finding an agreement on the future framework for missile defense cooperation.