NATO to consider joint defense system with Russia

NATO Foreign Ministers say the alliance is ready to explore NATO-Russian anti-missile defense systems. The statement came on Friday after a long chill in relations over the 2008 war in South Ossetia.

"We continue to support increased cooperation between NATO and Russia on missile defense, including maximum transparency and reciprocal confidence-building measures," reads the statement produced as a result of the meeting in Brussels. "We reaffirm the Alliance’s readiness to explore the potential for linking the United States, NATO and Russian missile defense systems at an appropriate time."

Several other deals were on the agenda during the meeting, including a plan to determine mutual threats to NATO and Russia and possibly reform the NATO-Russia Council itself.

NATO also stated that it planned to support the US President’s military operation in Afghanistan by deploying 7,000 more troops to the region. Previously, however, the Alliance said it wanted to encourage the Afghan government’s autonomy by transferring power and training local personnel. Skeptics of the new decision insist that the two strategies cannot work together.

Following the meeting, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the media that new possibilities for cooperation in the field of technology and military were discussed. “This kind of cooperation is in the interest of both parties,” Lavrov said.

He added that resuming cooperation with NATO did not mean the two parties would avoid sensitive issues on which they disagree. “These include the expansion of the Alliance, the future of arms control in Europe, and the military infrastructure that has been moving closer to Russia’s borders,” Lavrov said. “We have detailed our concerns and hope that our partners understood them.”

Answering a question about Russia’ violation of the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement, Lavrov disagreed, saying Russia has fully complied with the plan by observing its main provision for non-violence. Lavrov also mentioned President’s Saakashvilli’s refusal to sign the agreement, calling it “petty trickery.”

Lavrov further said he had urged NATO to take notice of Georgia’s military build-up and warned of its potential dangers.

“It is not incidental that I dwell upon this Georgian weaponry problem. It is a serious problem, ” he said.

“According to some estimates, the capacity before the war, the military capacity of Georgia, has been restored and armaments are being supplied and most of them are offensive. Why should Georgia need them? I think all understand how risky it is to arm this regime, something must be done about that and we have discussed it with our partners in NATO,” Lavrov added.

In response to a question about Russia’s strategies in the Middle East, Lavrov said Russia supported US efforts to restore peace in the Middle East and create a favorable environment for peaceful dialogue.

Watch the press conference video