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11 Jun, 2009 20:45

Moscow dismisses plan for US shield in Russia

Russia will play no part in helping the US build military systems aimed at Russia. Nor will it let US missile defense elements be put on its soil, the Russian Foreign Ministry has announced.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko was responding to a new idea floated by the Pentagon to invite Russia to join Poland and the Czech Republic in hosting the system.

Nesterenko said that only a full withdrawal of Washington’s missile defense plans in Eastern Europe would make a Russia-U.S. partnership in missile interception possible.

A meaningful dialogue on cooperation in responding to potential missile risks can only start after the US renounces its plans to create what is known as the third site of the strategic missile defense system,” Nesterenko told journalists while commenting on the initiative of the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to deploy US AMD elements on Russian territory.

However, as a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed out, “This is exactly the issue on which Mr. Gates is of a different opinion. He mentioned the possibility of taking together with us some steps, which would kickstart a “partnership” between the US, Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic in creating this third missile defense site.”

“But I think you’ll agree,” Nesterenko continued, “that we cannot be partners in creating installations which, essentially, will work against Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Nobody does things to his own detriment.”

Nesterenko added that Russia nevertheless hopes to reach an understanding with the US on the basis of a joint evaluation of missile threats, the RIA Novosti news agency reports.

However, Nesterenko said, Russian and American evaluations of the situation do not coincide.

“Yesterday Gates said that the US is considering a possibility to deploy AMD in Russia. We have paid attention that a lot was formulated in the way the American side would like to see it, but not in the way it is in reality,” Nesterenko said.

RT’s political analyst Peter Lavelle says this may just be part of the political bargaining process and the two sides may eventually reach a practical solution.

“Mr. Gates is, as they say in American politics, on a fishing expedition – how far they can push the Russian side,” Lavelle explained, “and it is a disappointment they have become public. This kind of negotiation should stay behind closed doors till there is some kind of agreement. It is a little bit of a dance right now but I remain pragmatically optimistic.”