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Russia, NATO may see progress in missile defense cooperation by June

Russia, NATO may see progress in missile defense cooperation by June
Moscow will set up a working group in March to cooperate with NATO in the missile defense field, Russia’s envoy to the alliance, Dmitry Rogozin, has said.

­The first report on the directions of the possible cooperation might be prepared by the meeting of defense ministers in June. However, the entire issue still remains extremely complicated, Rogozin said at a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday. On the one hand, Moscow has received invitations to join the project by the US and NATO. But these invitations only reminded Rogozin of the saying “If you pass by my house, just pass by.”

Moscow and the Western alliance agreed to cooperate in missile defense at the Lisbon summit last November. But the details of the possible cooperation are unclear. NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, James Appathurai, last week ruled out the possibility of the alliance creating a joint missile defense with Russia. NATO wants two completely independent, though mutually coordinated, defense systems, he said in Moscow.

Russia proposed the creation of the missile defense shield based on sectoral principles. Rogozin, who was recently appointed the president’s special representative for missile defense issues, is rather skeptical about separate independent systems. Moscow wants guarantees that the European missile defense development does not target Russia’s strategic nuclear potential. For this, Russia has to be integrated into this system or it will have restrictions.

A negative scenario would throw Moscow and the alliance years behind. On the contrary, if serious joint actions are taken, then “a military-technical answer” will be unnecessary, the envoy stressed. He warned the US that its global missile defense system would jeopardize the new START treaty if it is targeted against the Russian strategic potential.  

Anyway, if the creation of a unified system is not being discussed, NATO interception systems should be deployed at a distance from Russian borders. Then, Russia and NATO will shoot down their targets themselves, Rogozin said.    

He also advised the Europeans not to concentrate on “one bad guy – Iran.” Russia does not believe that this threat is real, Rogozin noted. It was Western countries that caused Tehran to attempt to develop its own nuclear program “for the sake of its strategic protection and defense,” he said.

The envoy stressed that Russia and NATO should give up any military plans against each other. Such an agreement, signed by both sides, would “lift all other problems.”