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No progress at Russia-US missile defense negotiations

September 27, 2011, 17:46 UTC+3

Russia is ready for compromises but they must be reasonable - Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov

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CHEBARKUL, Chelyabinsk region, September 27 (Itar-Tass) —— There is no progress at the Russia-U.S. missile defense negotiations, and the United States continues the rapid implementation of its plans, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday.

“No breakthroughs have been made. The American partners continue to implement their plans in the deployment of the European segment of the U.S. missile defense network,” he said.

The opinion that a NATO missile defense network is being created in Europe is erroneous, he said. “In fact, the Americans are fulfilling their own plans in Europe. Alas, these works are far ahead of the [missile defense] dialog of Russia, the United States and NATO,” he said.

Russia is ready for compromises but they must be reasonable, the deputy minister observed. “There is a certain red line, the questions of defense, and any compromises are impossible there,” he said. The Russian Defense Ministry has computed “the entire range of military and technical measures to deter threats close to the Russian borders,” he said.

Russia keeps explaining its proposals, including the sectorial defense, to the partners, among them Romania and Turkey, but to no avail, Antonov said.

“I would not say that the reset policy has come into a deadlock. I think our American and NATO partners realize that stubbornness will lead to nothing. We need solutions, we need a search. We clearly declare our problems and say why the implementation of the American plans causes our concerns, and we offer solutions. They smile at us and carry on their plans,” he said.

Earlier this month Russian military strategy expert Alexei Arbatov has called ‘a political mistake’ the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe in disregard of the opinion of Moscow.

“Such actions cannot be taken without coordination with Russia,” he told reporters on September 20.

“The U.S. course is absolutely destructive,” said Arbatov, who heads the International Security Center of the World Economy and International Affairs Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “In fact, the Americans suggest that no matter what Russia may say they will implement their plan [of the missile defense network deployment], which has been coordinated with NATO.”

The course of U.S. President Barack Obama is practically similar with the position of the George W. Bush administration, he said. “This applies not only to missile defense but also to other aspects of the relations with Russia,” the expert noted.

The U.S. agreements with Bucharest (the deployment of an interceptor missile base by 2015) and Ankara (the deployment of a NATO missile warning radar station) “have no strategic role, because U.S. missiles based in Romania will never be able to intercept Russian intercontinental missiles, especially those based on submarines,” Arbatov said.

The expert said that the Russian aerospace defense program for the period until 2020 was a reply to the U.S. global missile defense initiative.

He does not think that the U.S. “may be interested in the new arms race, which is a suicidal act of self-exhaustion, but it wants to get on Russia’s nerves.”

Russian Permanent Representative to NATO, Presidential Envoy for Missile Defense Interaction with the Alliance Dmitry Rogozin said two weeks before West European leaders hoped that the election campaigns in the United States and Russia would have no effect on the missile defense dialog.

He told Itar-Tass on September 16 he had been visiting European capitals in the past month to listen to the response of European leaders to the message President Dmitry Medvedev sent early this year to spell out Russian ideas and concerns in the missile defense project.

“Certainly, I cannot disclose these answers fully, but I would like to say that European leaders hope for mutual understanding of Russia and the United States in the missile defense issue. They also hope that the election campaigns, which have begun in the United States and Russia, will have no effect on the missile defense dialog and will not narrow the space for maneuver in the search for consent,” he said.

“West European members of NATO are not interested in the construction of ballistic missile interception sites in Europe. Actually, they agree only to the first and second phases of the missile defense project [that is the protection from tactical missiles of the medium and shorter range]. That plan is focused on the creation of a missile defense perimeter in Southern Europe, including the deployment of Aegis BMD-equipped ships in the Mediterranean Sea. The USS Monterey has been on mission there since March 2011. The construction of a radar station in Turkey and a base in Romania also belong to this phase. As for the third and fourth stages [the protection from intercontinental ballistic missiles], the need to deploy such systems in Northern Europe, among them the missile interceptor base in Poland, is not quite obvious to West European states,” he said.

The U.S. has a different view and pushes “not only the first two stages of the missile defense project but also the third and fourth stages of ballistic defense,” he said.

Washington and Warsaw put the cart before the horse with their agreement to deploy a missile interceptor base in Poland, Rogozin said. “The missile interceptor base in Poland is a part of the third and fourth phases of the deployment of the missile defense network in Europe aimed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles,” he said.

“The agreement of the United States and a number of East European countries presents the other European NATO members with a fait accompli. That is being done at the time when the diplomatic influence on states suspected of a wish to breach the non-proliferation regime has not been exercised fully. We are witnessing an attempt to accelerate the missile defense project and to put the cart before the horse, a large geopolitical horse,” Rogozin said.

“As for the Russian position at the negotiations, it is subject to evolution. That is what the craft of diplomacy is about – one finds solutions in the balance of possibilities, the junction of interests and the coincidence of views. First of all, NATO has its zone of responsibility and Russia has its zone. They must not clash. Secondly, we continue to insist on the signing of a legally binding treaty, which will lift Russia’s subjective concerns related to the missile defense plans of the United States,” Rogozin said.


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