Obama, Medvedev Agree Antimissile Talks Should Continue

U.S. President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, have decided to maintain discussions on European missile defense even as the two heads of state failed to reach agreement on outstanding points of contention during a private weekend conversation, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, Nov. 11).

"We’ve agreed to continue the search for possible decisions on this issue realizing that the positions are still far apart," Medvedev said after his meeting with the U.S. president on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii (RIA Novosti, Nov. 13).

Moscow is opposed to the Obama administration's plan to field by 2020 increasingly sophisticated sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe as a stated hedge against a feared missile attack from the Middle East. The Kremlin suspects the U.S. military of secretly scheming to undermine its own long-range nuclear deterrent.

Russia has demanded a binding pledge from Washington that the missile interceptors will never be aimed at its strategic nuclear forces. The United States has declined to provide such a guarantee and has offered instead to permit Russian scientists to observe one or more U.S. missile interceptor tests to ascertain for themselves that the technology is not a threat to Russia's long-range ballistic missiles.

"Regrettably, there are no contacts on this problem now, we do not clearly understand what our partners are suggesting," Medvedev said of U.S. and NATO plans to establish a European missile shield, ITAR-Tass reported.

"I think in the near future we will decide how Russia should react to the problem connected with the European [anti-ballistic missile actions]," he said. "I will have to give a full assessment of Russia's reaction to the developments in respect to the European ABM -- both at the present moment and after 2015" (ITAR-Tass I, Nov. 14).

Russian Vice President Vladimir Putin in a dinner meeting with international reporters and experts indicated Moscow would bolster its deployment of nuclear-armed missiles if the United States proceeds with its plans to deploy antimissile infrastructure around Europe without a corresponding agreement with the Kremlin, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

"We believe that the establishment of a missile defense system is a threat to our nuclear potential and we will be compelled to respond," said Putin, who is widely expected to handily win general elections for president next year.

Putin asserted that Washington was only invested in its relationship with Moscow because it knows Russia is the only nation with the capacity to quickly destroy the United States.

"You ask me whether we are going to change. The ball is in your court. Will you change?" Putin said (Stephen Fidler, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 12).

Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin complained in a Friday meeting with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's security adviser, Peter Ricketts, that NATO is not sufficiently taking into account Russian concerns over the Western military bloc's plans for missile defense, ITAR-Tass reported.

"I discussed with the representative of the British side the issue related to the creation of U.S. and NATO's missile defense infrastructure in Europe," Rogozin told reporters in London.

"The Russian Federation is not satisfied with the state of affairs in this field. We see that our partners are making a totally one-sided approach to this problem, and that Russia's European partners, in our opinion, do not fully understand the extent of their responsibility before hosting a potential (system) capable of creating, not more, but less security for the entire continent," the senior Russian diplomat said (ITAR-Tass II, Nov. 12).

Rogozin called on the United Kingdom to play a mediator role on missile defense, ITAR-Tass reported.

"We believe that the U.K. is an influential country by virtue of its very close alliance with the United States and as a NATO member. Russia and the U.K. were traditional historical allies in all the major wars of the 20th century, so we expect that Britain as a nuclear power will take a responsible attitude to this issue in favor of finding speedy solutions at the negotiations on the missile defense," he said (ITAR-Tass III, Nov. 12).

November 14, 2011
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U.S. President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, have decided to maintain discussions on European missile defense even as the two heads of state failed to reach agreement on outstanding points of contention during a private weekend conversation, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, Nov. 11).