Russia, NATO: dialogue saddled with problems
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about this in Brussels Monday after discussing matters with NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
This is what he had to say:
"The US and NATO argue that nothing can be changed in their missile defence plans. At the same time, auditors in the US Congress have already questioned the usefulness of the proposed system. Russia, as it turns out, is not alone in harbouring apprehensions concerning American missile defence. This opens possibilities for a productive dialogue in which Russia and the US, the main proponent of missile defence programmes, could sort out and resolve their differences on the matter."
Mr Lavrov also said that Russia is seeking clarifications concerning NATO’s role after its scheduled pullback from Afghanistan in 2014:
"NATO says it will stay in Afghanistan in limited advisory and coaching roles. Russia would like to know in exactly what kind of roles. Overall, NATO appears to be retreating to its statutory mission of collective defence against aggression in the European theater. Accordingly, joint wargames in Northern Europe are on its immediate plans. Questions arise as to who is the aggressor in this area. Apparently, there are people inside the NATO Alliance who remain stuck in Cold War mentality and believe it is still necessary to keep NATO as a closed military bloc. But even with these people, Russia is prepared to start a dialogue."
Mr Lavrov and Mr Rasmussen agreed to convene the next ministerial meeting of the NATO-Russia Council this spring. Mr Lavrov also handed Mr Rasmussen a formal invitation from Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to attend a Moscow conference on Euro-Atlantic security in late May.
Mr Lavrov is staying in Brussels to attend a ministerial conference of North European countries.
Russia will not accept deeper strategic arms cuts unless the US drops plans to deploy weapons in space and extends binding guarantees that no American missile defence installation on European soil will compromise Russia’s deterrence capability.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about this to the media in Brussels Monday after emerging from a meeting with NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
He also said his yesterday’s telephone conversation with his American counterpart John Kerry did not address missile defence issues.
Russia seeks clarifications concerning the role of NATO after the Alliance’s scheduled pullback from Afghanistan in 2014. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about this in Brussels Monday after emerging from talks with NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
He said that NATO’s plans to hold exercises to practice a joint rebuff to an aggressor in Northeastern Europe are pointless, because NATO is not under threat in this theatre.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been invited to a planned conference on Euro-Atlantic missile defense that is being organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.
The invitation from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was passed to Rasmussen by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Lavrov also told reporters that the NATO-Russia Council is due to hold a foreign minister-level meeting "late in spring."
Lavrov and Rasmussen discussed the general state of relations between Russia and NATO in light of high-level agreements between them and decisions of the Lisbon summit of the NATO-Russia Council.
Lavrov said that in December Russia and NATO approved a practical cooperation program, which addresses aspects of the Afghan war issue, terrorism, sea piracy, natural and manmade disasters, and a project for the remote detection of explosives.
Moscow continues to press for guarantees regarding US, NATO missile defence systems
Moscow continues to insist on US and NATO guarantees that their missile defence systems will not be aimed at Russia’s strategic potential, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said in a statement.
He told a news briefing that when discussing missile defence systems, Russia is invariably concerned that its national security may suffer.
If damage is done to Russia in the process of carrying out the US missile defence program, Russia will take asymmetric measures. But this is not Moscow’s choice. The Russian authorities seek cooperation, the diplomat said.
Voice of Russia, TASS, Interfax