America Sends Missile-Destroying Warship Toward Russian Waters. President Putin Presumably Not Pleased.

Don't look now, but Russia's greatest fear just became a reality.

Apr 12, 2014 at 7:42AM

USS Donald Cook leading a flotilla of destroyers. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

File this story under the rubric: "Be careful what you wish for." When the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) departed Norfolk Naval Base to take up station at the Spanish naval base in Rota two months ago, it set off alarm bells in Moscow.

Accusing the U.S. of attempting to set up a "strategic offensive potential" in Europe, Russian President Putin loudly condemned the move. U.S. officials calmly explained that the Cook, and its sister ships USS Ross (DDG-71), USS Carney (DDG-64), and USS Porter (DDG-78), were headed to Spain to set up a missile shield against the Iranian missile threat -- and posed no threat to Russia. But Russian State Duma foreign affairs committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov declared this explanation "fake."

In the Russians' view, you see, the presence of a fleet of U.S. destroyers in Europe, armed with a version of the Aegis missile defense system tweaked to shoot down ballistic missiles, is a threat aimed squarely at Russia's nuclear arsenal.

Turns out, they were right about that.

Ship-borne ballistic missile defense test-firing aboard the USS Hopper (DDG 70) near Hawaii. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Showing the flag
Ever since Russian armed forces invaded and annexed the Ukrainian province of Crimea last month, the U.S. government has struggled to find an appropriate response. Trade sanctions and visa freezes on Russian government officials could punish Russia for what it's done in Crimea. But what could the U.S. do to deter further aggression?

This week, it appears the Obama administration hit upon its solution. It took the USS Donald Cook and is sending it to the Black Sea. Armed with new Standard Missile-3 IB weaponry from Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), the Cook boasts a robust version of Lockheed Martin's (NYSE:LMT) Aegis ballistic missile defense system capable of shooting down supersonic, high-trajectory missiles such as Russia uses to carry its nuclear warheads. The warship was modified for ballistic missile defense (BMD) duty as part of a $22 billion project to build shipborne and land-based missile defense stations to protect Europe from Iranian long-range missiles. But just as President Putin predicted, it appears to have use in countering Russian threats as well.

Departing its new base in Spain, the Cook is now en route to the Black Sea, where it will "show the flag" off the Ukrainian and Russian coasts -- a concrete demonstration to President Putin of how aggression in Crimea could bring about the very thing he fears: U.S. ballistic missile defenses set up right next to the Russian border.

Anti-missiles for peace
Will moving a single destroyer into waters off Crimea be enough to make President Putin think twice about his reported plans to invade the rest of Ukraine? Maybe, maybe not.

What this move does show us, though, is that the $22 billion ballistic missile defense system has wider application than it was initially planned for. It can help to contain the threat of a future Iranian nuclear missile and it can help to disarm Russia's nuclear arsenal as well.

This may help to give the program "legs" even in an era of declining defense spending. From the perspective of investors, the Cook's deployment to the Black Sea tells us two things. First, that the Obama administration sees the program as geopolitically useful -- and, presumably, worthy of further funding. Second, that BMD may have more uses than originally envisioned. Designed to deter Iran, BMD warships are today being used to keep Russia in line. In future years, the program may grow (bringing further funding for Lockheed Martin and Raytheon) should it be deemed advisable to deploy BMD warships to waters adjacent North Korea or China.

In short, Russian President Vladimir Putin may not like this development much. But investors in Lockheed Martin and Raytheon should be pleased.

USS Donald Cook and sister ships shown transiting the Atlantic. Photo: U.S. Navy.

Editor's note: The headline and text of this story have been edited to remove reference to the USS Donald Cook being in Russian waters.

3 stocks poised to be multibaggers
The one sure way to get wealthy is to invest in a groundbreaking company that goes on to dominate a multibillion-dollar industry. Our analysts have found multibagger stocks time and again. And now they think they've done it again with three stock picks that they believe could generate the same type of phenomenal returns. They've revealed these picks in a new free report that you can download by clicking here now.

Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers