Anti-missile defense still a concern for Russia on eve of START deal

As Russia and the US prepare to sign the new START treaty on April 8, Russia plans to put forth a statement detailing conditions under which it could withdraw from the deal.

The statement, intended to serve as an “independent political document,” in the words of Sergey Prikhodko, an aide to Russia’s President, indicates that Russia could withdraw from the treaty in case the US exceeds its anti-missile defense potential. Prikhodko added that a similar request could be anticipated from the US as the leaders of two nations prepare to meet in Prague later this month.

The Presidents of Russia and the US had originally agreed that the subject of the new treaty would be strategic offensive weapons,” said Prikhodko. “Anti-missile defense is the subject of a separate dialogue taking place between our countries.”

Moscow has pushed to incorporate the link between AMD and offensive weapons ever since the negotiations started. But since the ambiguity with which the issue is described in the new treaty leaves much in obscurity, the document proposed by Kremlin could provide it with a potential backup plan.