Russia voiced disagreement with US proposals on its missile defence system in Europe. Igor Neverov, the Director of the North America department in the Foreign Ministry, described the proposals as incomplete, insufficient, and at odds with the criteria suggested by Moscow. The statement can well be seen as an epilogue to the last round of Russian-American consultations in Oslo, where US representatives acknowledged yet again that Moscow had enough grounds for concern in connection with Washington’s plans to deploy ten anti-missile silos in Poland and a powerful radar site in the Czech Republic.
Once again, the Americans proposed that Russian military observers be stationed at the two military facilities, but, the proposal suggested nothing concrete. Moscow signalled a need for permanent Russian military observers at the bases during the bilateral talks of the two countries’ foreign and defence ministers. Washington responded with nothing concrete. It announced a bit later that the issue of permanent or temporary presence of Russian military observers should be settled with the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic.
Simultaneously, the United States sidestepped the alternative solutions suggested by then-President Putin at summits with President Bush in Heiligendamm and Kennebankport. The initiatives called for a joint study into potential threats before taking retaliatory action. In a word, Russia called for building a collective security and monitoring system that would embrace Russia, the United States, Europe, and other continents. To this end, Russia suggested setting up information exchange centres in Moscow and at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, and a joint use of the Gabalin radar site in Azerbaijan and the one currently under construction in Southern Russia.
The opinion voiced by Igor Neverov of the Foreign Ministry’s North America department leaves little ground for optimism over prospects for signing an agreement on missile defence between Russia and the US. It has to be remembered, though, that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and President Dmitri Medvedev, have not once expressed hope that a mutually acceptable compromise would be found eventually.
3 June 2008
Voice of Russia World Service