By Lada Korotun
“Trust, but verify” – that’s how Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on NATO’s claims that the European missile defense system is no threat to Russia. Assurances to this effect came in the immediate wake of Thursday’s anniversary meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen underscored what he described as a very important stage in relations between the Western defense alliance and Russia. 15 years ago the authors of the Russia-NATO Treaty could hardly imagine that one day we would stand together against terrorism, find a solution to the Afghan crisis and cooperate in a variety of other fields, Rasmussen added.
In his turn, Sergei Lavrov said that what made the Brussels meeting so special was that it summed up the results of the implementation of the agreements reached during the Lisbon Summit of 2010 where Russia and NATO countries embarked on a course of “a strategic, modernized partnership”. Two years on the sides remain fundamentally divided on issues pertaining to Russia’s security interests, above all in missile defense. Moscow earlier made it perfectly clear that NATO’s refusal to provide Russia with ironclad security guarantees had pushed the talks into a dead end. On Thursday the NATO leaders made repeated verbal assurances that the European antimissiles posed no threat whatsoever to Russia’s strategic deterrent.
“In matters of defense, potential is what really counts, not good intentions and promises,” Lavrov said. “We need clear-cut guarantees that the missile infrastructure, which will come into play at the closing phase of the four-stage missile deployment plan, is not aimed against Russia…”
Narrator: Assessing the potential for cooperation between Russia and NATO, Sergei Lavrov mentioned such high points as a Russian permission for the transit of nonlethal goods for the NATO military contingent in Afghanistan, including via the NATO base in Ulyanovsk.
Narrator: In view of the recent developments in Kabul, the situation in Afghanistan became a center point of the Brussels talks. Describing the situation there as extremely complicated, Lavrov once again urged NATO to join forces with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which he said has all it possibly needs to effectively fight terrorism and drug trafficking.
Apart from the NATO chief, Sergei Lavrov met with his colleagues from Turkey and the United States to discuss the situation in Syria. During a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Lavrov had a lengthy discussion with her of the Iranian nuclear problem and its possible solution as part of the Five Plus One format.