Russia's envoy to NATO said Friday that Moscow was ready to begin discussions with NATO officials on missile defense collaboration, ITAR-Tass reported (see GSN, April 9).
"We have been ready to negotiate with NATO experts for a long time. If the alliance's offer of missile defense cooperation is confirmed, we are ready to start clarifying positions on Monday," Dmitry Rogozin said.
Following a meeting in Estonia last week of foreign ministers from alliance states, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organization was ready to begin open discussions with Russia regarding joint missile defense operations. He said that a shared system would be more effectual.
Rogozin said he could see experts beginning discussions on the topic at a May 19 meeting of the Russia-NATO Council (ITAR-Tass/Tehran Times, April 25).
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Thursday that collaboration between the alliance and Moscow should begin with a joint examination of missile threats, Russia Today reported.
"Cooperation between NATO and Russia on missile defense is only possible if all states are involved," Lavrov said. "Cooperation should begin with the very first step: with the analysis of the missile threats, with working out the approaches to respond to these threats, and that's the only way we can talk about cooperation."
Moscow has opposed U.S. plans for a missile shield that would involve the fielding of land- and sea-based missile interceptors in Europe as a hedge against missiles fired from Iran. Russia has claimed that the shield would negatively impact its own nuclear deterrent (Russia Today, April 24).