Russia's NATO envoy has expressed cautious optimism about the new U.S. approach to a European missile shield, which could use a Russian radar as part of an integrated system.
Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he supported the idea of partnering with Russia as a way to enhance security against shared missile threats.
"We can only welcome the statement made by Adm. Stavridis, but the question remains - whose finger will be on the missile button? Who is going to have the final word on the use of the missile defense system?" Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview published on Thursday in Russia's Izvestia paper.
"I think that the Americans, for a variety of reasons, would not allow anyone to touch this button. And that leaves a lot of room for pondering," he said.
Rogozin speculated that Stavridis most likely wanted to alleviate Russia's concerns over security guarantees under the new phased-in approach for European missile defense, which could involve Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria.
Moscow has previously offered the use of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan and the Armavir radar station in Russia's Krasnodar Territory as alternatives to previous U.S. plans for a missile shield in Central Europe, but Washington was reluctant to accept the proposal.
The Russian diplomat said the details of the new U.S. plans were too sketchy to make a reliable evaluation of the benefits of missile defense cooperation to Russia.
"We are trying to link the development of missile defenses with the reduction of strategic offensive weapons...and if we see an adequate response to our concerns we would take more determined steps toward the possibility of cooperation on missile defense," Rogozin said.
"Besides, we are waiting for the United States to adopt a new nuclear doctrine, which must clarify all aspects in question. Therefore, all major negotiations [on missile defense] are still in the future," he added.
MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti)