Senior U.S. and Russian defense officials are slated to discuss divisive missile defense matters at the end of the month in Belgium, ITAR-Tass reported on Tuesday.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov confirmed that he and U.S. Defense Undersecretary James Miller would lead the bilateral discussions on April 30. The two officials discussed the meeting on the margins of U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon's visit to Moscow on Monday.
In Brussels, "the U.S. colleagues are expected to elaborate on the changes in the U.S. plans in the area of missile defense, namely their giving up the fourth phase of deploying the missile defense system in Europe," according to Antonov.
The United States' decision last month to cancel plans to field a next-generation missile interceptor with a limited capability to defeat ICBMs in Poland is seen to have created an opening for improved U.S.-Russia strategic relations. Moscow, though, has said it still has serious reservations about Washington's antimissile ambitions in Europe and elsewhere.
Donilon and the State Department's top arms control official, Rose Gottemoeller, on Monday discussed the antimissile dispute with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, ITAR-Tass separately reported. Stopping the spread of unconventional weapons and efforts to prepare for forthcoming meetings of the five recognized nuclear powers were also reviewed.
During meetings with top Russian officials on Monday, Donilon argued for new talks on additional bilateral nuclear arsenal cuts and for greater Russian involvement in efforts to reduce the danger of a missile attack from North Korea or Iran. The White House adviser gave Putin a letter from President Obama that laid out his thinking in these areas, the New York Times reported.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Tuesday said U.S. plans to field ballistic missile defenses in Europe do not pose a threat to his nation's strategic nuclear weapons, RIA Novosti reported.
"We have solved the issue of penetrating the U.S. missile shield and it poses no military threat to the country," said Rogozin, who in the past has been a prominent outspoken critics of the Obama administration's antimissile plans.
"We regret that the United States waste their money on missile defense and compel us to do the same," Rogozin said in an address at the Russian Embassy in London. "The missile shield is nothing for us, it’s a bluff. It poses no military threat, but remains a political and economic problem."
Rogozin said his government is still opposed to U.S. antimissile plans in Europe as they are "provocative" and "excessive by nature."