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7 Oct, 2009 16:37

New US ABM plan not a threat to Russia – FM

Moscow does not see the new US plan for missile defense in Europe as a threat to Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has told a news conference held in the city of Kharkov in Eastern Ukraine.

“The project cancelled by President Obama’s administration – the missile shield bases in Eastern Europe – was definitely creating risks for Russia’s security. The new project, which replaces it, creates good conditions for dialogue. Our initial evaluation shows it isn’t creating risks for us,” Lavrov said.

He also added that, these days, the Russian side has planned to hold consultations with American partners in order to “better understand the configuration of the mobile US ABM system, which is aimed at neutralising threats.”

Dmitry Polikanov, a political analyst from the Russian public opinion research center, told RT that the new US missile defense project has a major difference.

“The Patriot missile systems are designed for the interception of short- and medium-range missiles, so they are more a tactical, than strategic weapons. The major Russian concern with the missile defence project was that it could be a threat to the Russian strategic nuclear arsenal. However, the deployment of Patriots will not create a security challenge for the Russian strategic forces,” Polikanov said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Moscow on October 13 to discuss the issue with Sergey Lavrov, as well as the new START treaty, Iran and North Korea, the Itar-Tass news agency says.

The sixth round of Russia-US ABM talks recently ended in Geneva and, summing up the results, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the discussions were held “in a business-like and constructive atmosphere.”

Russia and the US agreed to continue talks on the new START treaty in Geneva in the middle of October.

And Mikhail Troitsky, a political analyst from Moscow State University of International Relations, believes that although the worst may be over in Russian-US relations, it's still too early to expect Moscow and Washington to create a joint missile defense shield.

“The major – and I guess the only – stumbling block to substantive cooperation on missile defense between Moscow and Washington is the situation of mutual deterrence, of nuclear deterrence in relations between Russia and the US. So if we overcome the situation of nuclear deterrence, then we will be able to move beyond symbolic agendas in missile defense cooperation and towards a genuine joint missile defense system,” Troitsky said.