Interview with Aleksandr Pikaev
Russia Today: NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says the Gabala radar is not an alternative to the elements of the U.S. anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. So, what will happen next?
Aleksandr Pikayev: I think that the NATO Secretary General was not mandated to make such comments. The question of the missile defence deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic is a subject of negotiation between Moscow and Washington, and Washington and Prague – NATO is not part of these negotiations. Besides, so far neither Poland nor the Czech Republic gave their permission to deploy ABM elements on their territories. So these comments by NATO Secretary General could suggest that Poland and the Czech Republic are not sovereign states. Regarding the future of the NATO-Russian talks on anti-missile systems, I can say I am sceptical about this. Americans have never been serious in proposing Russia to join their defence efforts. Their refusal to co-operate in sharing information from Gabala station demonstrates that they cannot rely on any joint missile defence infrastructure. What they want, is their own installations to be deployed where they would be able to, including Poland and the Czech Republic.
RT: Can these comments from NATO Secretary General be regarded as the official comments from the U.S. side? Is it likely there will be more reaction from the U.S. side confirming what he said?
A.P.: Official reaction from Poland and the Czech Republic and the U.S. side are necessary. NATO Secretary General is not part of any talks with Russia on the matter. Yes, the subject is discussed in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council, but in fact it is a matter of talks between 28 sovereign nations – or the nations that pretend to be sovereign. So, under his mandate NATO Secretary General had no right to say this and I think Russia could undertake all necessary diplomatic demarches to denounce his statement.
RT: Let’s now speak about the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. Russia can reduce its conventional forces in Europe if NATO is ready to do the same. What are the disagreements over the issue?
A.P.: The adopted CFE Treaty was signed in 1999. Up to now only Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have ratified it. All NATO nations, however, refuse to ratify the treaty, saying Russia should withdraw troops from Georgia and Moldova first. Russia denounces this demand is politically motivated. Meanwhile, there has been considerable progress with the withdrawal of troops from Georgia, as well as Moldova. But NATO’s position is still very tough and does not take into account this progress. Therefore, Moscow suspects that these demands only serve as a pretext to avoid ratification of the treaty. NATO wants to have freedom in deploying ABM elements in Poland and the Czech Republic – like in Bulgaria and Romania. Actually, it was a violation of the treaty but NATO pretends the contrary.
RT: Russia is also threatening to withdraw from the treaty. What consequences might it have?
A.P.: Russia is not going to withdraw from the treaty immediately. What Moscow said, is that it was going to impose a moratorium on its compliance with the treaty. This means Russia might stop informing its Western partners on moving its troops within its territory. Therefore, this important document could be jeopardised. Still, it is not Russia that would be to blame, but the West which neglects the treaty and does not take into account Russia’s interests.