A Russian proposal for establishing a collaborative missile defense system in Europe has been removed from the table in discussions with NATO as the military alliance failed to show any interest in the idea, RIA Novosti reported on Friday (see GSN, July 14).
Moscow had advocated for establishing an antimissile framework with NATO in which each side assumed responsibility for shooting down missiles traveling over a specific geographic region. The United States and some other nations categorically dismissed the idea as it might have left some NATO nations' security from missile strikes in Russian hands. The military alliance instead pressed for collaborative but distinct antimissile operations (see GSN, June 7).
"The idea of zonal missile defense? It's no longer under consideration. That's it," said a member of the Russian delegation for missile defense talks with NATO.
It remains to be seen where talks on the matter can go from here, according to RIA Novosti (RIA Novosti, July 15).
Moscow wants the two sides to come to a decision regarding collaboration on a European missile shield before next year's NATO summit in Chicago, Interfax reported.
"The Russia-NATO summit in Chicago in 2012 is a political reference point, if not a deadline. From the political point of view, the two sides should decide about their readiness or unpreparedness for any compromise by the Chicago summit," one Russian negotiator said.
"We must tell the public frankly whether we are reaching any understandings or not," the delegate continued.
Last November, NATO invited Russia to participate in its planned missile shield. The two military powers embarked on a series of discussions on the possibilities for antimissile cooperation though substantive differences emerged on the parameters of such a system.
The United States over the next decade plans to field increasingly sophisticated land- and sea-based missile interceptors around Europe as a stated shield against potential Iranian ballistic missile attacks. The U.S. system is to be folded into a broader NATO effort to link and bolster individual members' antimissile capacities.
Moscow fears the NATO plan would undermine its own nuclear deterrent and has called for a legally binding pledge that the alliance's interceptors would not be aimed against Russian nuclear weapons.
The Russian negotiator said the technical aspects of any joint missile defense collaboration could be finalized after the Chicago summit.
"Let's see how things unfold on their side, what the financing is going to be," the source said. "It is not a question of the next two to three years and President Dmitry Medvedev has said that many times" (Interfax, July 15).