‘NATO’s unilateral measures harming regional stability’ – top Russian general

German soldiers readying a mobile Patriot anti-missile missile launcher in Koerbecke (AFP Photo)
The construction of a missile defense system in Europe fails to promote stability in the region, Russian General Chief of Staff Nikolay Makarov told reporters on Monday after meeting with NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

­Speaking on the results of his meeting with US Navy Admiral James Stavridis in Moscow, Makarov said that “considerable attention was given to the creation of a missile defense system in Europe.”

He then relayed Moscow’s concern that “the process of deployment of the missile defense system is occurring without further negotiations about its creation.”

These unilateral measures taken by NATO do not promote security and stability in the region, Makarov said, adding that a missile defense system in Eastern Europe represents the most contentious issue between Russia and the Western military bloc.

Russia has to understand what is being done, why it is being done, and what the time frameworks are, Makarov said.

Russia’s highest-ranking army officer said the conditions for “further improvement in our relations,” was contingent upon transparency in NATO’s actions.

Makarov reiterated that NATO and Russia have issues that are understood in the same way by both parties, but there are issues on which Russia and NATO differ.

“I am confident that these issues will be resolved through negotiation.  I am expecting a specific discussion," he said.

Makarov then expressed confidence in the judgment of his US guest.

"I believe that Admiral Stavridis has understood these issues and the confidence-building measures will continue in the future," he said.

Stavridis, in turn, said he had listened to General Makarov with great attention and will communicate the comments to NATO’s political leadership, which will decide on these issues.

The American naval commander then called Makarov his "good friend" and agreed that Russia and NATO have many issues on which military co-operation is developing and will continue to develop.

Before meeting with Makarov, Stavridis had a 30-minute meeting with Alexander Tatarinov, the head of the General Staff of the Russian  Navy, to discuss issues relating to the fight against pirates and  prospective cooperation within the framework of NATO's Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned earlier this year during the G8 Summit in France of a future arms race unless the two sides can find an acceptable agreement that does not compromise Russia’s security interests.

"In the coming decade we face the following alternatives,” Medvedev said. “Either we reach agreement on missile defense and create a full-fledged joint mechanism of co-operation, or … a new round of the arms race will begin."

Meanwhile, Russia's NATO Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin warned that there was a limit to Russia’s patience in discussing the issue.

"This disregard must find a military-technical response, which has been mentioned by the Russian political and military leadership on many occasions. We are warning our partners that the clock is ticking. Very little time remains," Rogozin warned.

Robert Bridge, RT