The United States and Russia this week in Belgium intend to hold vigorous discussions on a European antimissile framework, according to the Kremlin's envoy to NATO (see GSN, April 18).
"This will be an especially intensive week of consultations at the political and military level," Dmitry Rogozin said in an Interfax article.
The bilateral talks are to take place from Monday through Thursday in Brussels.
"Their purpose is to try to advance on the missile defense issue, so as to accelerate preparations for a meeting between the Russia-NATO Council defense ministers on June 9 and, of course, for a meeting between the presidents of Russia and the U.S. on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Deauville, France at the end of May this year," Rogozin said.
NATO and Russia agreed last fall to study areas for future antimissile collaboration. Preliminary discussions have taken place, but the sides have significantly differing ideas of what a cooperative missile defense system should entail.
The alliance has proposed two separate but integrated systems that would exchange data on potential missile threats. The Kremlin has said it wants to see a single entity established within which each military power would assume responsibility for shooting down missiles traveling over a specific geographic region. Washington has stated it would never place any NATO state's missile protection in the hands of Russia.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov was to meet on Monday and Tuesday with U.S. Principal Deputy Defense Undersecretary James Miller and Missile Defense Agency head Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly. Russian armed forces chief of staff Nikolai Makarov is to step into the talks on Wednesday, Rogozin said.
"This round of intensive negotiations with the Americans will be continued on May 5 with consultations at the foreign ministerial level," Rogozin said. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is to meet then with U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher.
On Thursday, the Russian and U.S. officials are to update the Russia-NATO council "about progress on the European missile defense system at the Russian-U.S. bilateral level," Rogozin said (Interfax I, April 29).
Russian space forces commander Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko on Friday detailed his government's concept for a joint missile defense framework with NATO, RIA Novosti reported.
"We are ready to develop together with NATO experts on missile defense the architecture of this (joint) network, from the concept and selection of the best sites for the deployment of radars and interceptors to the set up and operation of joint data processing and control centers," Ostapenko told the Izvestia newspaper.
Moscow is willing to supply a "missile shield" that would protect Eastern Europe and the Barents, Baltic and Black seas, Ostapenko said.
"In order to ensure a reliable and uniform exchange of information it is necessary to set up a joint data processing center which would obtain, process and relay target data to a joint fire control center," the general said. Russian officers must be part of the staff that manages the missile defense centers, he added.
Ostapenko emphasized that Moscow had no intentions to deploy missile interceptors outside of Russia.
A shared missile defense framework would address the Kremlin's worries that NATO could use its missile interceptors to undermine the Russian strategic deterrent, the general said (RIA Novosti, April 29).
"The joint missile defense system should be based on the territorial principle of sharing individual countries and group of countries' responsibility for the detection and elimination of missiles in specific defense sectors," Ostapenko said in an Interfax report.
"Naturally, Russia should be in charge of the eastern sector encompassing the territories of the contiguous states and seas," he told reporters.
The Obama administration earlier this year began implementing its phased adaptive approach for European missile defense that calls for the gradual deployment of increasingly advanced sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe (see related GSN story, today; Interfax II, April 29).
"Concerning Europe and our European partners' concerns about European security, I would like to say that the Russian missile attack warning system is capable of spotting ballistic missile launches on time not only from the Middle East, but also from the entire eastern direction," Ostapenko was quoted by Interfax as saying (Interfax III, April 29).
A Russian missile defense official told journalists on Thursday that non-nuclear warheads were being prepared for deployment on Russian missile interceptors, Interfax reported.
"A research institute is developing a high-explosive warhead, but no such warheads have been supplied to the armed forces," he said (Interfax IV, April 28).