Interview with Irina Kobrinskaya
RT: As we heard, Vladimir Putin said it would be difficult for Russia to remain within the INF treaty unless it goes more global. How likely is it that Russia will go as far as to withdraw from it?
Irina Kobrinskaya: This is not the first time the Russian President has says that. He has repeated it several times even before, in 2006. I think that we all have to understand that all this security matters require now a package approach because there are very few existing treaties remaining. We do not have the ABM treaty, the CPE treaty and there were very many speculations that the CFE treaty will be on the table these days, which was from my point of view a bit surprising. It is mostly about INF. Logically, Russian response to the missile defence in Central Europe may be the missiles in Kaliningrad region. That is the possibility. So I think putting this issue on the table is a good invitation for a further dialogue on security matters including the INF making it even more global or looking for other solutions This a real problem.
RT: As for the U.S. plan to deploy its missile defence system in Europe. Do you think some sort of rapprochement may be achieved, something that will bring two countries closer in the way they view this issue?
I.K.: I think that the compromise, in fact, is already reached because these 2+2 consultations were taken in 2002 and this is the first meeting after that so this is a compromise already. I don’t think that there will be far going concessions. It needs time. And I think both sides, Russia and U.S., need the time because both countries are on the eve of elections. We have to see how the things will develop, what will be the change in the Parliament, American Parliament which also has some questions regarding the missile defence. So I think that this is a very technical matter by the way, including using the Gabala station. And if the experts talk, if they are looking for technical and political decisions. We signed it already in two month or in a year I think that in a year time or year and a half there will be a compromise if we have good political will on both sides.
RT: As you just said the visit is taking place in difficult period, as in 2008 both leaders, Putin and Bush, will be stepping down. So in that sense do you think the talks will lay foundation to the future? How much progress will be achieved?
I.K.: I think there is an understanding on both sides that we need to live through this period, very-very difficult for both countries. Putin is doing everything on his side to provide for succession of his foreign policy, which I think was quite clear – sending signals to the West that Russia is a Western state. It wants to be a Western country. In the U.S. there may be some changes. The possibility that the Democrats will win is rather high. So there may be changes there. And both sides now have this understanding. At least, Condoleezza Rice showed that she wants to engage Russia. And leading American analysts andpoliticians support her in that.