Russia has been provided information on how it might collaborate with NATO on a proposed missile defense initiative, RIA Novosti quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying yesterday (see GSN, Nov. 3; RIA Novosti I, Nov. 3).
The military alliance's 28 nations are expected to determine at their summit later this month in Lisbon, Portugal, whether to formally include missile defense among NATO's objectives, paving the way for a program to integrate and augment the protective systems of member countries.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is scheduled to attend the summit. He "confirmed that we will be ready to take part in the establishment of such a common system starting with a joint analysis of what could be done. And, of course, equally building a system that would be aimed at neutralizing the challenges that are common for all of us," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying (Interfax I, Nov. 3).
Moscow "will be ready to participate in building such a system ... on an equitable basis," he quoted Medvedev as saying in discussion with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (RIA Novosti I).
Moscow "was additionally briefed about the contents that the new strategic concept of the alliance which is being prepared for adoption at the NATO summit in Lisbon," Lavrov said.
The NATO-Russia Council "will intensify [its] work this week on the concrete contents of the upcoming Nov. 20 ... summit," he said. "I expect that we will succeed in being duly prepared for the occasion" (Interfax I).
A joint NATO-Russian antimissile effort would not be aimed at a specific entity, RIA Novosti quoted Lavrov as saying.
Although a collaborative missile defense initiative would probably not result in a unified shield, the NATO and Russian systems should swap data to establish a shared "security roof," Rasmussen said.
The NATO chief also suggested that Russia conduct antimissile drills with the alliance (RIA Novosti I).
"Cooperation between Russia and NATO would mean a more capable defense. It would also send a powerful political signal that we are, for the first time ever, cooperating to defend ourselves together," Rasmussen told Interfax.
Collaborating with Moscow and Washington was the first in a range of possible activities the alliance should assess as possible means of countering ballistic missile strikes, he said.
"There is a threat: More than 30 countries have or are developing ballistic missiles, some of which can already hit NATO territory and probably Russia," he said (Interfax II, Nov. 3).
Moscow and the alliance could initiate a joint missile defense effort right away, and participants in this month's summit could take action on the matter, Rasmussen said (Interfax III, Nov. 3).
The NATO chief welcomed questions from Russia on the antimissile plan, adding the alliance and Moscow would together explore potential avenues for cooperation (Interfax IV, Nov. 3).
Addressing whether a NATO missile shield could incorporate a radar station at Mukachevo, Ukraine, Rasmussen said: "I think this invitation should be open to our Euro-Atlantic partners, so it is also an invitation to Ukraine if Ukraine so wishes."
"We don't exclude that possibility," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying (RIA Novosti II, Nov. 3).