A high-level Russian official today questioned whether there is any value in additional talks with the United States on the Bush administration’s plan for missile defense installations in Europe, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Oct. 2).
The Russian government “simply doesn’t see the point of continuing the same thing. It’s necessary to move forward,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax.
Washington has signed agreements to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and an early warning radar in the Czech Republic. It says the sites are intended to defend against missile threats from nations such as Iran, but Russian officials have complained that the interceptors threaten Russian security.
Moscow and Washington have held high-level talks aimed at reducing tensions over the matter. However, compromise plans developed by both sides — which included a Russian proposal to use existing radars rather than establishing the new Czech site and a U.S. offer to allow Russian officials access to the two facilities — have failed to gain traction in the other capital.
“Currently we are waiting for the United States to firm up the measures of trust and transparency in envisages at U.S. missile defense installations in … Europe,” Ryabkov said.
Talks to date have produced “no kind of progress. … We gave the Americans several questions but haven’t received answers,” Ryabkov said. He played down the likelihood of a breakthrough before the Nov. 4 presidential elections in the United States (Agence France-Presse/NASDAQ.com, Oct. 21).
Russian personnel must have continuous access to the radar site if Moscow is to drop its opposition to the facility, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday.
“A one-off visit would not change anything, but only increase our suspicions,” he said (RIA Novosti, Oct. 20).