Interview with Vadim Kozyulin

Vadim Kozyulin, an expert from the Conventional Arms Centre, gave his view on two major military debates Russia is involved in: the issue of the missile defence in Eastern Europe and the moratorium on the CFE Treaty.

Russia Today: Let’s talk about the Gabala radar first. The Russian Foreign Ministry says the consultations have been fruitless. What implications will this have for the Russian initiative?

V.K.: I would say Russia is definitely disappointed with the result of these negotiations. Actually, it is not a question of Gabala for Russia and for the United States. It’s a question of control over the system in general. The United States wants to control the missile defence system they create. But in this case Russia feels vulnerable and subjected to potential threats. For decades Russian people were sure that they are protected by the nuclear arsenal. This system might potentially put this statement under question.

RT: The U.S. says the the Gabala radar doesn’t have enough coverage to suit its anti-missile needs. How can Russia argue on that?

V.K.: I believe both parties pretend that they are talking about technical matters and nobody wants to talk about the political matters and national security. And that’s the point. We, the observers, should understand that technical matters are minor and can be solved in this or that way – and Russia could contribute much more then just Gabala – once the political understanding is achieved between Russia and the United States.

RT: Do you think there will be more negotiations now?

V.K: I think it’s not over, it will continue.

RT: Now, the issue of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty is also big news today. Russia says the moratorium on the Treaty is not irreversible. What is that all about?

V.K.: The Russian position on this treaty is well-known. Russia considers it a bit outdated and not corresponding to present political realities. Russia wants to modernise it, to update this treaty. Obviously a lot of changes have happened in the world since 1990, and even since 1999, when the treaty was updated. The Warsaw bloc has disappeared; many countries which were part of the Eastern bloc are now part of the Western bloc. So Russia just wants a fresh look an the new realities and to sign a new treaty.

RT: Why won't NATO countries ratify the Treaty?

V.K.: There are two pretexts. Russia has to withdraw its troops from Moldova and from Georgia. Actually Russia has no objections, and the progress is there. Russia is withdrawing. There are very few troops in Georgia and it’s only a matter of time when Russia withdraws from there completely. In Moldova there are ammunition depots that complicate things. They need special handling to deal with safely. It will take some time and probably some funds to withdraw from there.

And the Russian position is that the withdrawal from Moldova and Georgia was not included in the text of the treaty. So demanding it is groundless, according to the Russian side.

RT: So why this change of heart for Russia? It’s offering an olive branch, is it?

V.K.: Russia always wants to be flexible. Actually, it was flexible and many times it demonstrated that it was ready for negotiations. So it’s one more effort to come to an agreement. Actually, every treaty is part compromise, so Russia is ready for compromise and expects the same form the Western countries.