Russia and NATO remain at loggerheads over a U.S.-led project to build a missile shield in Europe, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Thursday.
“So far, we have not found a mutually acceptable solution to the missile defense issue, and the situation is at a dead end,” Serdyukov said on the first day of a three-day international conference in Moscow on the proposed NATO shield.
NATO is to declare initial operational readiness of the system at an alliance summit in Chicago on May 20, an indication that it is willing to go ahead with its plans without Russian accord, he added.
The alliance says the shield will come into full operation by around 2020 and is to protect against “rogue” states such as Iran. But Russia insists the system is a threat to its national security and is seeking written guarantees from NATO that it will not be used against its interests.
“There is a dilemma facing our countries now,” Serdyukov said. “Either we pass this test of cooperation and respond together to new missile challenges and threats, or we will be forced to undertake the necessary military measures.”
But Russia and the U.S. can still reach an agreement, he said.
“Recently there has been more talk that an agreement on missile defense can be reached in principle. We agree with this thesis,” he said.
Serdyukov also recalled that despite all the difficulties, Russia and the U.S. had managed to agree on difficult issues like strategic nuclear arms cuts.