NATO, Russia Still Fail to Agree on Missile Defense in Europe

Defense | July 4, 2011, Monday // 18:55|  views

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R), NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (L) and Permanent Representative of Russia to NATO Dmitry Rogozin (C) walk after the Russia-NATO Council meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia 04 July 2011. EPA

NATO is ready to cooperate with Russia on the missile shield issue but there is much to be resolved, Alliance Secretary-General Anders Fog Rasmussen has stated at a NATO-Russia Council meeting, where the two sides again failed to agree on a joint missile defense system in Europe.

"Many key issues still need to be addressed. We never said we would agree on missile defense overnight, or even in a few months," Rasmusen said during the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi, as cited by RIA Novosoti. "We are determined to keep up the dialogue and to keep up the work. And we are making progress in matching our visions of the missile defense project," he stressed.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile defense system at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti stresses that NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said many obstacles divide Moscow and Brussels on the issue, and called the alliance's decision to build the system "a reality."

"I hope that when we meet in less than a year at the NATO summit in Chicago, we will be able to agree on missile defense," he stated.

While Rasmussen sounded both sober and upbeat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a warning against NATO's possibly going it alone on the NATO/US missile shield in Europe, should an agreement with Russia fail to materialize.

"Real strategic partnership would not be possible. Russia would have to respond," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the NATO-Russia Council forum in Sochi Monday, as cited by DPA.

"We did not agree,' he said. 'We accepted the NATO position as an accomplished fact," Lavrov explained.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a speech did praise the results of the NATO-Russia Council conference in Sochi.

"I think we are all inspired by the result. The meeting was very fruitful and I hope that we have advanced the agenda which is relevant for us," he said.

Kremlin officials on Friday said Russia would initiate retaliatory steps against the NATO missile defence plan if there is no progress in talks on the issue by the end of 2011. The Chicago round of the NATO-Russia Council is scheduled for May 2012.

The original US missile defense in Europe plan of George W. Bush administration provided for stationing interceptors in Poland and the radar station in the Czech Republic. The modification of the plan by the Obama Administration switched it to sea-borne missiles and, later on, locations in southeastern Europe. Initially, there were reports and expectations that Romania and Bulgaria will replace Poland and the Czech Republic, respectively.

During its summit in November 2010 in Lisbon, NATO agreed to adopt the previously purely US missile shield project as its own. The summit did cast some serious doubts over Turkey's participation in the missile defense system because it insisted that its Muslim neighbor Iran should not be mentioned as a source of threat in the respective documents, and eventually prevailed.

In May 2011, the US State Department and Romanian President Traian Basescu announced that the interceptor missiles of the future NATO/US missile shield in Europe will be stationed at the Deveselu Air Base near Caracal, Romania.

Bulgaria is likely to host elements of the US/NATO missile defense system in Europe instead of Turkey if Turkey refuses to host them, according to a statement of Bulgarian Deputy Defense Minister Avgustina Tsvetkova made in June 2011.

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Tags: EPAA, air base, Deveselu, NATO, missile shield, missile defense, US, Traian Basescu, Romania, turkey, Avgustina Tsvetkova, radar system, Dmitry Rogozin, arms race, NATO-Russia Council, Sochi, Dmitry Medvedev, Sergei Lavrov, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, Russian President, Russia Foreign Minister


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