Missile defense: no border breaking

The military measures outlined by President Dmitry Medvedev in response to America’s controversial missile defense system in Europe will be taken within Russia's borders, according to senior Russian MP Konstantin Kosachev.

­“All the announced measures are being and will be taken by the Russian Federation within its national borders,” he said, adding that it is Russia's sovereign right. “Unlike the USA and its NATO allies, we are not going beyond these bounds,” Kosachev, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, told a media conference.  

The foreign policy architect added that the actions listed by Medvedev, including Russia's possible withdrawal from the New START treaty, do not violate the country's international obligations. He pointed out that the document provides for such a withdrawal and the president had “only reminded about this possibility” and noted that Russia may use it under certain circumstances.

According to Kosachev, the president's statement amounts to a coercive measure. However, he emphasized that to the last, Moscow had tried to avoid a situation where such measures were necessary. Russia urged its American partners to find a compromise on missile defense “when we still had an opportunity to come to an agreement in the sphere of strategic stability.” The Russian side had put forward quite a few options, but Washington declined them all. 

The measures outlined by Medvedev came in response to actions by the US, which is deploying its missile defense shield in close proximity to Russia's border.  If Moscow's measures have their intended effect and are properly understood, “our partners on strategic stability will always have an opportunity to respond, correct their actions” and make sure that further steps are not taken. Kosachev stressed that, in contrast to NATO, Russia's activities are fully transparent.

The lawmaker pointed out that Moscow is still ready for a dialogue on the matter and is interested in coming to a compromise rather then entering a situation of confrontation or, even worse, launching a new arms race. 

Kosachev underlined that Russia does not intend to wind up the “reset” process and block strategic co-operation with the US.

“Tango is a dance for two and there is no intention from the Russian side to bring the 'reset' to a close,” he said.

Medvedev's statement was made shortly after his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Honolulu. According to Kosachev, it is likely that the talks influenced Russia's stance in any way. 

An agreement on building the missile defense shield near Russia’s western border may be reached at the NATO summit in Chicago next May. Kosachev warned that this would be “a point of no return, a deadlock situation which would require that measures our president spoke about be taken.”

On Wednesday, Dmitry Medvedev addressed the nation, saying that Russia was no longer prepared to wait for permission to participate in the European missile defense project. Instead, it would take defensive and offensive initiatives to protect its people and sovereignty.