Joe Biden's new foreign policy did not create grounds for optimism

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MOSCOW (Nikita Petrov exclusively for RIA Novosti) - The 45th Security Conference session in Munich is over. A speech by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in which he set forth a new foreign policy, did not cause any sensations, although he said that relations with Russia would have to be "reset."

Some members of the Russian delegation expressed cautious optimism, saying that bilateral relations will now start from scratch in order to allow the two sides to resolve many poignant issues. However, domestic military experts cannot fully share this hope, and here's why.

First, Biden declared that the United States plans to complete the construction of a global missile defense system in Europe. He noted that in so doing, Washington will consult NATO and Russia, which is nothing new. The previous administration also regularly consulted with Moscow on this system, but this did not change its intention to deploy (for starters) 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and a high-frequency radar in the Czech Republic.

Judging by media reports, Biden did not say a word about the prospect of signing a new treaty on cuts in strategic offensive arms and the nuclear potentials of the two countries, and on verifying compliance with them to replace START-I, which expires next December. Apparently, the new administration has not yet cemented a clear position on this issue. The inspiring leak in The Times about Washington's readiness to cut its nuclear potential on a par with Moscow by 80%, to 1000 warheads, has not yet received any official confirmation.

Speaking at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), British Foreign Secretary David Miliband presented new directives for U.K. foreign policy; in effect, he developed the ideas set forth by The Times.

Essentially, these boil down to three main points: first, it is necessary to take measures against nuclear weapons proliferation, a clear hint at Tehran. Miliband suggested very tough measures against all those who violate the non-proliferation regime.

Miliband said that maximal cuts in all national nuclear arsenals and the elaboration of laws providing for tough and verifiable nuclear arms limitations is the second condition for moving towards a world without nuclear weapons. The British Foreign Office believes that the United States and Russia should conduct talks to reach agreement on considerable reductions in their nuclear arsenals, since they have the biggest stocks of nuclear weapons. At the same time, these talks should be supported by other nuclear states, which should also reduce their nuclear arsenals to a minimum. In addition, Miliband suggested a ban on all nuclear tests in order to restrict the development of nuclear weapons.

The third point is conducting a search for solutions to overcome the challenges to security that will emerge during the reduction of the nuclear arsenals, and up to their complete liquidation. Miliband believes that this should be done at the talks that could be started at an international conference in London this year.

Russian military experts believe that these ideas have the right to exist if they represent Washington's unofficial proposal on cuts in nuclear arsenals. They are very similar to the proposals once made by the Soviet Union's first and last President, Mikhail Gorbachev. The leading Western countries, however, did not support these ideas at that time. Unlike Russia, the United States has not yet ratified the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, and thus it may be premature to talk about cuts in nuclear weapons, still less so by 80%.

What will be subject to these cuts? Only nuclear warheads, as the United States proposed earlier, or carriers as well? How will they be counted - only those carried by missiles, or including those stationed in depots? Aren't London and Washington trying to disarm Russia unilaterally? It is common knowledge that the Russian conventional forces do not compare with those of the United States, and Russia can only guarantee its security with nuclear arms.

The devil is in the details, but those details are not yet clear.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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