MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – The United States’ insistence on pursuing a missile defense system in Europe is standing in the way of further cuts to Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces, Russia’s top general said on Thursday at an international security conference in Moscow.
“Russia will cut its strategic attack force only when it is certain that the United States’ development of global missile defense will not undermine its nuclear deterrent potential,” Chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov said at the start of the two-day Military and Political Aspects of European Security conference.
The event brings together senior defense officials from Russia, the EU, the United States and Canada, as well as independent military and political experts.
Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov reiterated Russia’s position on missile defense, stressing Moscow does not seek an advantage, merely legal guarantees regarding its current and future security.
In an opening address to participants read by Sergei Ivanov, President Putin expressed his confidence that, despite differences over issues such as missile defense, the international community is in a good position to build and strengthen collective defense and security strategies.
“The necessary prerequisites are in place: the lack of any fundamental ideological differences, mutually intertwined economies, and developing cultural, scientific and business contacts between people,” Putin’s message said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the lack of trust between Russia and the West, which he described as a “cold war relic,” is a key problem in European security, and stressed that “Russia and NATO have agreed not to view each other as enemies.”
However, NATO’s continuing eastward expansion is undermining those areas of progress that Russia and the West have achieved, Shoigu said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “transatlantic security should not oppose pan-European unity.”
“If we want to overcome mutual suspicion regarding each other’s intentions, then we need to jointly analyze the risks and develop genuinely collective, common, approaches to neutralize them,” Lavrov said.
“Working together in equitable partnership, we are able to effectively complement each other, multiplying our potential,” Lavrov added.