Russia And US Can’t Agree On Planned Missile Defense Shield – OpEd


By Vesnovskaya Maria

The US is ready to provide Russia with technical specifics of interceptor missiles of the European missile defense system. US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tausher discussed the issue at talks that were held in Moscow in October. Analysts do not believe though that it will be enough to convince this country that American anti-missile system poses no threat to Russia, pointing out that US Congress also may refuse to approve this step.

At the meeting in Moscow, Ms. Tausher said that the US is prepared to provide information about the missile’s speed after it uses up all of its fuel. Missiles’ technical specifics are not the only thorny issue in the heated debate between the countries over the planned Europe-based missile defense shield. The US still has not specified from which country this system is to protect Europe. Russian political scientist, consultant at the Russian Academy of Sciences Vilen Ivanov believes that the US should make its plans transparent to Russia, if it really wants to go on with this shield.

“If they really want to cooperate with us, this system should be designed together with this country. In this case, the necessity for a defense tool agasint some nations with hostile attitudes towards Europe and Russia would be explicable. Russia and Europe joining forces would be an absolute success.”

This palliative move and the desire to act without this country, however, do not provide a solution to the problem.

Even this inadequate initiative proposed by President Obama may not be realized, as the Republicans have accused President of conducting clandestine talks with Russia arguing that this may pose a threat to the US security. They do not trust Russia and think it just wants to get hold of the US military plans to use them in its own interests. The run for Presidency has already kicked off in the US, and the relations with Russia are often seen as a political instrument, says Vilen Ivanov.

“This is an initiative of the Democrats, one of those political steps, which are aimed to show peaceful intentions to the American voters and thus to influence them ahead of the elections. Nevertheless, the Democrats have a chance to build a fundamental cooperation with this country, as President Obama has shown his good will towards Russia. The Republican position is closer to the traditional one, as we get accustomed to the fact that the US is always trying to impose its will.”

Republicans have a real opportunity to obstruct those steps of the White House that are aimed at achieving a compromise, says an employee of the International security center of the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of sciences Vladimir Evseev.

“Republicans have enough leverage, although they can not dictate to President Obama what to do. They can back their position with the treaty signed by Russia and the US in Prague, according to which the US pledged not to trim its missile defense systems to calm down Russia.”

Russia has announced it is not going to be standing still, when the US is preparing to deploy the missile defense shield in Europe.

President Medvedev said that the Russian response will be reasonable and adequate, but will not end the possibility of further negotiations. He stressed that Russia still fears that the missile defense system proposed by the US “can significantly change the system of parity,” which may create certain problems for Russia. That is why analysts believe no agreements will be brought to life in the near future, if only a year from now, after the Presidential elections in Russia and the US.


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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