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US acknowledges Russia-US missile defence talks face insurmountable difficulty

October 14, 2011, 12:07 UTC+3
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­The United States for the first time officially acknowledged that the missile defense talks with Russia have reached deadlock, the Kommersant business daily reported. The architect of the reset of relations with Russia, and incoming US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, told a Senate hearing that Washington has no plans to provide any legally-binding guarantees that its missile defence shield in Europe will not target Russia’s nuclear forces. He also admitted that that these disagreements make it impossible to reach a compromise on missile defence at the Russia-NATO summit in May 2012.

The two countries’ leaders Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama planned to sign a statement on legally-binding guarantees during the G-8 summit in Deauville last May. However, the presidents never signed such a statement.

Obama was dissuaded from signing the statement by the Pentagon and the CIA, the business daily quoted officials in the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying. Therefore recently Moscow hoped that this issue can be returned to the negotiating table. In particular, according to the source in the Kremlin, not long ago Russian and US diplomats considered the possibility of signing a similar statement in November, during the meeting of the two countries’ leaders on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii.

Michael McFaul’s statement means that the hopes were not destined to come true. It’s worth noting that McFaul made his statement at the Senate hearing to approve him as a new US ambassador to Russia instead of John Byerly. So the US position is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Moreover, when asked by senators to comment on John Byerly’s recent statement that the US and Russia could reach an agreement on missile defence before the NATO summit in May 2012, McFaul admitted that “negotiations reached a dead end, so I am not very optimistic. I suspect that we will be working on these issues not only for the next several months, but for many, many years.”

Under these conditions Russia has been preparing for protracted confrontation.

According to a high-level source in the Kremlin, “the US intentions are becoming even more evident: they plan to build their missile defense shield without taking into consideration our opinion.” “Even if a miracle occurs and they decide to give some legally-binding guarantees, they will not satisfy us, as these guarantees will be effective for five years, and the next US president who will come after Obama will be able to cancel them.” The official noted that Moscow has already begun to consider military-technical measures. “We have common understanding of what should be done. Our response will not cost much, but will be extremely effective.”  

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