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No understanding between Russia, West on missile defense - General Staff

December 07, 2011, 19:21 UTC+3

“Russia does not need an arms race, but we are being pushed towards it”, Nikolai Makarov complained

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MOSCOW, December 7 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia and its Western partners still have no understanding on the missile defense issue, the chief of the General Staff, General of the Army Nikolai Makarov, said at Wednesday’s meeting with foreign military attaches.

In part, General Makarov said Russia had the impression that its partners were deaf or reluctant to listen to its arguments concerning the missile defense. He recalled that at the Lisbon summit of NATO the Russian president declared the readiness to participate in creating a missile defense in Europe, but Dmitry Medvedev’s sectoral approach was rejected. Another option, envisaging the placement of attack missile defense weapons at sites where they would be unable to reach Russia’s territory, failed to be accepted, too.

“We shall be prepared for other options, but no proposals are being made to us,” he complained. “We hear nothing but empty promises to the effect the missile defense in Europe is fraught with no risks for Russia’s strategic armed forces.”

“We have monitored media reports to see the reaction of our partners to the Russian president’s statement regarding a relatively adequate response to the deployment of a missile defense in Europe. The measures that were declared in that statement by the president are being implemented already,” he said. “But we do not need this. We keep saying this again and again. Instead of trust we are getting back to suspicion and distrust. This will be of no good to Europe.”

General Makarov pointed out that the partners in the negotiations kept saying that the deployment of a missile defense in Europe was a matter of a distant future, of 2018-2020.

“But we have been able to see for ourselves the pace at which the missile defense in Europe is being implemented, and not from the potential threats (from the south) that had been originally declared. Naturally, we are forced to take measures now, and not in 2018, so as not to suddenly find ourselves on the losing side. Russia does not need an arms race, but we are being pushed towards it.”

Asked if there would be any adjustments to the military reform, which had been underway since 2008, General Makarov said: “We keep a close watch on all threats to the security of Russia, both existing and hypothetical. We shall respond to changes, if need be. Our chief concern is that about the deployment of a US and NATO system in Europe. We shall adequately react to the related threats.”

About the theme of Russia’s cooperation with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan Makarov said that Russia had decided to stay away from the conflict in Afghanistan, but at the same time allowed a number of countries to transit cargoes.

“Some other countries have approached us with similar requests,” he said.

Asked about whether there existed a risk of local conflicts near Russian borders developing into a full-scale war General Makarov said, “I do not rule out such a possibility.”

The chief of the General Staff dwelt upon a number of Russia’s domestic themes. For instance, he declared that in next year’s military exercise Caucasus-2012 Russia would test a new system of troops and arms control.

“No great amount of troops will be used. The emphasis will be put on training tactical level units,” he said.

In all, according to General Makarov, 2012 will see over 70 exercises with the armies of other countries affiliated with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, NATO and BRICS.

Makarov said that there were plans for increasing the number of contract servicemen in the armed forces to 425,000 and for more actively drawing college graduates into the army.

Asked about how the military reform addressed the issue of troops’ mobilization readiness, Makarov replied, “We have fundamentally revised the mobilization system, we pegged it with the military districts and the General Staff. We are finalizing a new system of training and accumulation of mobilization resources.”

Makarov touched upon the theme of re-equipping the armed forces.

“New equipment matching the modern standards and requirements will be acquired in sufficient amounts,” he said, adding that research would be conducted for two or three years into those weapon systems which failed to match the current standards and the possibility of their purchases would be considered afterwards.

The chief of the general staff acknowledged that over the past few years the Russian Defense Ministry had taken interest in foreign military hardware, but at the same time he added that such equipment would be purchased only in combination with manufacturing technologies and the creation of industrial facilities for its production in Russian territory.

About the outlook for military cooperation with Belarus and Kazakhstan Makarov said that it would be developing very intensively.


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