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Missile defense sparks diplomatic offensive

Published time: November 28, 2011 12:36
Edited time: November 28, 2011 18:07
AFP Photo /S. Sabawoon / Pool

AFP Photo /S. Sabawoon / Pool

Russia could review its relations with NATO on the critically-important issue of Afghanistan if it does not react to Moscow’s statements made in response to America’s missile defense plans, Russia's envoy to the alliance has said.

"If our partners do not react to the statements [which were] predictable and proportionate to risks and threats, we will have to reconsider our relations with our partners in other areas as well," Dmitry Rogozin said, as cited by Interfax.

Such a review could apply to Russia’s co-operation over the transit corridor used by NATO to move equipment and supplies into Afghanistan. Moscow’s permanent representative to NATO noted that he supports a systematic approach when it comes to addressing the problem.

Earlier last week, President Dmitry Medvedev outlined a raft of military and diplomatic measures in response to the US deploying its missile defense shield in Europe and failing to provide any legal guarantees that the system would not be targeted against Russia.

On Monday, speaking at a roundtable at the State Duma, Rogozin underlined that when it comes to national security, Moscow must think globally, “just as our partners do.”

He stressed that Russia would only be respected if its partners see it as a power that is capable of an adequate response to “any aggressor or group of aggressors.” The diplomat pointed out that the US plans all its military operations based on the concept of a lightning strike. NATO can simultaneously fight two large wars and six medium-scale ones.

“It’s a good question, especially for us, who would be enemies in large wars,” Rogozin noted.

The president of the Council for Strategic Priorities, Aleksey Pushkov, also believes that Russia should review its relations with NATO in the case that the alliance does not react to Moscow’s statements. If the military bloc pushes ahead with its projects despite Russia’s harsh rhetoric, the latter would lose credibility and cease to be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, another participant in the roundtable discussion, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, underlined that President Medvedev’s statement does not mean an end to Russia’s dialogue with the US and NATO.

What Russia did was warn its partners that it is determined to safeguard its national security. The Kremlin outlined that chances of reaching a compromise have not been exhausted yet. If the US changes its stance on missile defense, Russia will continue to co-operate with America and NATO in the area of strategic stability. However, because of “our partners’ destructive actions”, there are fewer possibilities to come to agreements, Kosachev said.

The official pointed out that Medvedev’s speech on November 23 was an adequate reaction to what is happening at Russia’s talks with the US and NATO “after the New START treaty came into force.” Since the beginning of the year, Moscow has come up with a number of initiatives aimed at the positive development of talks on America’s planned missile defense. Meanwhile, Washington and its NATO allies were only going through the motions of holding a dialogue with Moscow, while pushing ahead with their plans for a European missile defense shield without reference to Russia’s concerns.

Earlier in the day, Dmitry Rogozin met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss preparations for the ministerial session of the Russia-NATO Council, due to be held in Brussels on December 8. It is expected that Medvedev’s recent statements will be among issues for discussion at the gathering.

The Russian envoy to NATO also said on Monday that on the president’s orders, he will soon travel to China and Iran to talk about the missile defense problem.

Further efforts to reach an agreement on building the missile defense shield close to Russia’s western border will be made at the NATO summit in Chicago next May.