MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday that he did not see a joint Russia-NATO missile shield in Europe as the most efficient option.
“I don’t think the most efficient way would be to have a unified, integrated system,” Rasmussen told journalists in Moscow. “At this stage, I think, people in our respective nations would want their own nations to be responsible for the protection of their population and their territory. Try to ask Russians: ‘Would you like NATO to be responsible for the protection of Russian people and Russian territory?’ I think many Russians would say: ‘No, it is Russia’s responsibility.’”
Moscow has been vehemently opposed to the European missile shield initiative since its inception under the previous US administration, describing it as a threat to its strategic defenses.
Russia and NATO initially agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile defense system at the Lisbon summit in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability.
“We think the right way forward would be to have a Russian system and a NATO system, but to make sure that these two systems work together. I think that’s a realistic way forward,” Rasmussen added.
Further talks between Moscow and the alliance have foundered over NATO’s refusal to grant Russia legal guarantees that the system would not be aimed against Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.
Russia’s view of European missile shield
NATO and the United States insist the shield is designed to defend NATO members against missiles from emerging threat nations like North Korea and Iran, and would not be directed at Russia. The alliance has vowed to continue developing and deploying its missile defenses, regardless of the status of missile defense cooperation with Russia.
Russia has threatened a range of countermeasures to the missile shield, including deploying tactical nuclear missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and upgrading its strategic nuclear missile arsenal.