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BRUSSELS, November 14. (ITAR-TASS) - Cooperation on Afghanistan and the missile defence issue will top the agenda of the Russia-NATO Council meeting to be held on December 4, a NATO official told ITAR-TASS on Thursday, November 14.
He said Council would convene as part of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting on December 3-4.
Russian Army General Staff, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov stressed earlier that Russia is ready “to continue the discussion and, among other things, work out in the Russia-NATO Council a joint review of framework conditions for possible cooperation on missile defence in Europe.”
He recalled the international conference on missile defence in Moscow in 2012, where Russia spoke of its concerns “very openly.” Russia stressed at the conference that if NATO’s missile defence system became partly capable of intercepting Russian ballistic missiles by 2018, Russia would have to deploy up-to-date attack systems in the south and west of the country in order to suppress missile defence facilities if they are used against Russia.
One of Moscow’s demands to NATO is that its missile defence facilities should be moved away from the Russian borders in order to avoid a situation where NATO will be able to intercept missiles over the whole of western part of Russia. It has so far not received any clear answer to that.
“We have no intention to limit NATO in building an anti-missile shield against missile threats from the Middle East, but we have a right to expect that the protection of NATO countries will not be ensured to the detriment of Russia’s security,” Gerasimov said.
“It’s hard to built trusting relations if our deterrence capabilities are held at gunpoint by NATO’s missile defence system. So we agreed ... to continue the dialogue in order to look for a way out of this situation together,” he said.
“We do not question NATO’s right to build anti-missile defence for itself, but we cannot agree with the fact that this will be done by reducing Russia's deterrence capabilities,” Gerasimov said.
He believes that the time has come for a serious talk on European security and Russia is ready to discuss cooperation with NATO in the field of missile defence in Europe.
“Our concerns remain. We hope that the alliance will take steps that will help resolve them,” Gerasimov said.
According to Russia’s new foreign policy concept, Moscow will press consistently for legal guarantees that the U.S. missile defence system in Europe is not aimed against it.