By Mamonov Roman
Moscow and Washington have finally started making progress in their Euro-ABM talks. The United States expressed its readiness to provide a written confirmation that the European air defense shield will not be directed against Russia, Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher said. There is only one hindrance left about the whole thing – the Americans refuse to sign a legally binding document that would certainly ease tension between the sides. Roman Mamonov reports.
It took Moscow several years to obtain guarantees from the United States that its missile defense elements to be deployed in Spain, Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria are not directed against Russia and its strategic interests. Having always refused to fix its assurances on paper, Washington seems to be finally ready for concessions. This is what Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher said in this respect:
“The missile defense system we are establishing in Europe is not directed against Russia. We have said that publicly and privately, at many levels. We are prepared to put it in writing. As full partners in missile defense, we would partner to counter threats originating outside of Europe, not each other.”
At the same time, Ms Tauscher acknowledged that the planned ABM system is not technologically able to confront the Russian nuclear forces and has never been meant to.
However, this seemingly sensational statement does not imply Moscow’s sweeping victory on the issue, given that Washington is still opposed to any legally binding guarantees. For this very reason, presidents Medvedev and Obama failed to reach an agreement on European missile defense at this year’s Deauville summit. And now, Ellen Tauscher suggests signing a relevant document at the level of foreign ministers, which will hardly prevent the US from redirecting its missiles against Russia at the most reasonable time, says Konstantin Sivkov, the first vice president of Russia’s Academy of Geopolitical Sciences:
“One needs to clearly understand that this statement is nothing but an attempt to “test the waters” and assess Moscow’s reaction. In fact, Ellen Tauscher only referred to Washington’s possible intentions providing for no legal guarantees to Russia,” says Konstantin Sivkov.
However, many experts see this step as a positive signal to help Moscow and Washington out of the deadlock resulting from America’s unilateral actions. Ignoring the stand and viewpoint of Russia, the United States decided to install its ABM elements in Turkey, Spain and Romania. Director of the Russian Center for Socio-Political Studies Vladimir Yevseyev says now there is a chance to mend dialogue and cooperation:
“Written guarantees will not only prove a big leap forward but facilitate the search of new solutions. Moscow is considering a number of US initiatives, namely on the establishment of two joint information exchange centers, one of them virtual and another one involving the sides’ military. Apart from that, the two may also sign a breakthrough defense technology exchange agreement,” Vladimir Yevseyev emphasizes.
Anyway, with no legally outlined air defense cooperation parameters, Moscow has prepared its own response to Washington’s actions. The Ministry of Defense announced the creation of the first brigade to be armed with the cutting-edge Iskander-M tactical missiles capable of neutralizing elements of the US missile shield. Part of them has already been deployed in the Leningrad Region’s town of Luga.