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1 Mar, 2010 07:52

Russia’s unilateral disarmament is out of question – Russian diplomat

The US prefers to avoid any legal limits in developing national missile systems, which is absolutely unacceptable for Russia, said the chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev.

A highly-respected Russian diplomat, Konstantin Kosachev is currently in Washington DC meeting with top US officials. He joined RT to discuss the future of the US-Russian relations.

RT: Mr. Kosachev, thank you so much for being with us. First of all, what are your thoughts on Hilary Clinton’s recent speech, in which she said that NATO must co-operate with Russia, whether it has to do with nuclear non-proliferation or missile defense. What are your thoughts on this?

Konstantin Kosachev: We are in a very interesting period of our relations, between Russia and the United States. And there are many initiatives and proposals coming from each side, including the latest comments by Hillary Clinton. Sometimes these comments go in line with our own ideas and proposals; sometimes they contradict our vision of the current situation and our expectations about the future.

I believe that the most interesting part of it they’ve reached so far in our relations during the period Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton is that we have established this mechanism, infrastructure for our discussion in different areas like security, trade and economy, humanitarian issues and all others. And this means that sooner or later we will be able to work out common understanding, common evaluations about, let’s say, common threats and challenges in the field of security and whether we will create a different security structure for Europe – I do not know. I believe that Europe needs it, because the current structures, NATO included, are not efficient enough. Not a single security structure in Europe – neither NATO, nor OSCE, no other organization managed to prevent the conflict in Georgia, for example, or the previous conflict in Kosovo, for example. So, we need to do it in a different way, this is number one. And we need to do it through joint efforts – this is number two. But for that we need to evaluate our problems, threats and challenges on the bilateral basis, on the multilateral basis. And this is what we’ve started to do, and hopefully, we’ll reach some final result in the nearest future.

RT: You know, US-China relations seem to be growing more and more tense, whether it has to do with trade issues, or cyber-warfare, or arms sales to Taiwan. So is the United States essentially looking to serve support to another country, perhaps, maybe Russia now more than ever?

KK: Well, we watch the current developments in relations between the States and China. And we definitely are not going to interfere, or to make comments on that. This is a clear bilateral issue for the United States and China. And I believe that is equally wrong to believe that Russia “plays games” with China in order to tease Americans, or Americans would try to play games with Russia in order to tease China. This is rather naïve, this is too much simplifying things. I believe that we all need each other. China is a real player, Russia is a real player, the European Union is a real player, and of course the United States is a real player. And we do not have many options. Either we learn how to co-operate with each other without concentrating on contradictions and problems in our relations. We have many problems in the relations between Russia and the States, as many problems as the States has with China, for example. But either we learn not to concentrate on the problems and contradictions and we make progress in the areas where our interests coincide, or we will all the time be trapped in these contradictions and problems without any sufficient result, which is completely wrong.

RT: When we look at this START treaty. What are the major sticking problems here? Because it seems like we are missing deadline after deadline. And the negotiation process is a lot more complicated than many people anticipated it would be. Why is that and when can we expect a new treaty?

KK: Number one is quite simple: there should not be any deadlines when we have a negotiation process, because what is important is a good result of these negotiations. It’s about two serious things – it’s about national security, it’s about strategic balance and it’s about possible further possible developments for other nuclear powers to join this process at a later stage. So, these are very serious things we speak about. And the sooner the better, definitely. But in case we need more time, it is much better to spend this time on further negotiations, rather than to work out a text that will not be sustainable enough. As far as I can see, we have just a couple of problems to be solved before the final result is reached, and the major problem is of course about the linkage between a strategic offensive and strategic defensive forces, between anti-missile systems in Europe, to put it the right way – and strategic armaments.

Americans, as far as I can see, would prefer to avoid any restraints, any limits in that area. They want to develop their national and multinational missile systems without any agreements with Russia or any other country. This is absolutely unacceptable for us. We cannot imagine a situation where we can continue to disarm, continue to cut down our strategic armaments without knowing exactly, what’s going to happen in the field of anti-missile systems. So, we insist on this linkage, and we believe that this linkage should be legally written down, should be legally written down on paper in the coming agreement on strategic armaments. And this disagreement continues to exist. But I believe that they have come closer to each other and that their compromise is rather close.

RT: Speaking of the nuclear issue, it seems like Russia is getting closer and closer to the possibility of imposing sanctions on Iran. Do you have any insight into that? Why the shift?

KK: We are getting more and more concerned about what is going on in Iran with its nuclear program. We have many questions and we do not get proper answers to them from the Iranian side. And the most important thing is that the IAEA – the International Atomic Energy Agency – is getting more concerned. This is their judgment that it should be important for Russia and for the United States and for everybody else, and we speak about how to react on that with our partners. It may be sanctions. It is not excluded at all. What is excluded is the use of military force – nothing else is excluded. It may be any other measures of setting additional pressure on Iran. What is important is to show that the international community in this aspect is consolidated – that we are not separated, that we are not divided. And we have come much closer in our approaches with our partners in this group. And we hope that this is also the position of our Chinese colleagues. Because the situation is bringing more and more concerns.

RT: Is China more likely to get on board if Russia takes this step?

KK: I believe that in case they see that the international community is consolidated, they will not hesitate to join the international community. This is my personal assessment.

RT: Could we get your take on the situation in Afghanistan and US efforts over there? You said before that you think that Russia and the United States should work together on restoring the Afghan economy. Can you elaborate a bit on that?

KK: The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse and worse, and one of the basic reasons for that is that people do not have any economic and social infrastructure to live on. And this is how they are either joining the so-called resistance movement, or start to deal with narcotics [production and trafficking] inside and outside of Afghanistan. So, we need to provide an alternative, a real alternative to the civil population of Afghanistan. And for that we need to assist with the restoration of the national economy of Afghanistan. America and NATO countries who participate in this operation do not do anything about that. Just nothing. They combat Taliban, they try to solve the drug problem, but they do not provide any options. And I believe that in case that we find formats suitable for Russia for further participation like money coming from, let’s say the European Union or the United States and us, Russian companies [conducting work] inside Afghanistan, that could be a very interesting development.

RT: Any chance Russia would send forces or maybe even instructors? What Russia’s role can be if any as far as manpower goes?

KK: Any participation in the ongoing military operation in Afghanistan is absolutely excluded. It is not possible and it is not discussible. In case we send people to Afghanistan – that may take place only in terms of civil projects, in terms of restoring national economy of Afghanistan based on the agreements with the ruling Afghan authorities, definitely. And this should be a question of further consultations, negotiations. There are no decisions made. This is my theoretical assessment that it can be possible, it can be done through joint efforts of Russia and other countries who are really interested in the peace process in this country.