Russia ready to discuss missile defence with European public openly – envoy

OSLO August 8 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia is ready to discuss missile defence in Europe publicly, Russia’s permanent representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said.

“It is absolutely obvious that the missile defence being planned for the continent is nothing but a part of the U.S. military system which they want to build in Europe using European money,” Rogozin said at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs on Monday, August 8.

“We are not pleased with the course taken in this respect after the Lisbon Summit. And since it is a question of whom they are going to defend themselves from, including the Norwegians, it is important for us to discus this not only in Washington but also in Oslo,” Rogozin said.

Norway has so far not stated its position on new missile defence systems clearly, he said.

“During our meeting with the minister of foreign affairs [of Norway] we once again stated our point of view. I got the impression that our dialogue with Norway, with which we have good-neighbourly relations, is moving in a constructive way,” Rogozin said.

“In this sense, the purpose of speaking to military and political experts is to promote public discussion on the issue of security in the West,” he said.

“Missile defence is like snake venom that is good only if used in small amounts. Europeans should understand how we look at the fact that military facilities, ostensibly directed against a threat from the south, are being deployed on our north-western border, and that eventually Russia will have respond in order to protect its people,” Rogozin said.

He spoke at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs immediately after a meeting with the Norwegian foreign minister.

Russia is showing flexibility on the missile defence system being created by NATO in Europe, but wants its guarantees that it will not be directed against Moscow, Rogozin said earlier.

“We cannot understand what NATO wants from us. We are a very flexible country with flexible diplomacy, and we can respond to changes in the situation in the world very sensitively and attentively. At first we said our strong ‘no’ to the third missile launch in East European countries, but for some reason our Western partners did not like our ‘no’. Then we listened to our Western friends and did as they asked. Now we say ‘yes’ to missile defence plans. But for some reason we hear the same old ‘no’ from the West in reply to our ‘yes’,” Rogozin said.

“We have our legitimate questions to our colleagues: why in creating the missile defence system does NATO want to protect us as well without our consent?” he asked, referring to the deployment and the range of operation of NATO’s missile defence system in Europe.

“We respect how the United States and NATO will ensure the security of their allies. But we do not understand why is it proposed to deploy missile defence fire systems near the Russian border if these systems can reach all the way to the Urals Mountains?” Rogozin said.

He stressed that Russia has sufficient capabilities to respond to the deployment of NATO’s missile defence system near its border.

However, when asked to specify, he said it would be too early to talk about that as he hoped that NATO would satisfy Russia’s demand and provide it with necessary guarantees for the benefit of security cooperation with it.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen described as “unnecessary” and “out of date” assertions that the missile defence system in Europe would spur a new arms race.

“Large parts of Russia, and many Russian citizens, face a missile threat too. And NATO is convinced that cooperating with Russia on missile defence is in the interest of all of us – NATO Allies, and Russia. It makes sense politically. It makes sense practically. And it makes sense militarily,” he said at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies.

“What does NOT make sense, is for Russia to talk about spending billions of roubles on a new offensive system to target the West. This type of rhetoric is unnecessary. This type of thinking is out of date. This type of investment is a waste of money. Because, we are not a threat to Russia. We will not attack Russia. We will not undermine the security of Russia,” Rasmussen stressed.

“The threats to Russia come from elsewhere. And our invitation to cooperate on missile defence is proof of that,” he said.

The Secretary-General noted that from the beginning, the Allied position has been very clear. “We are not talking about a single system. We have taken a decision to build an Allied system. That is a reality. And that will not change. What we are talking about is synergy between our NATO system and a Russian system,” he said.

In his opinion, “the reason for this is simple. NATO has collective defence obligations which bind all Allies. And our territorial missile defence system will be part of our collective defence framework. We cannot outsource our collective defence obligations to non-NATO members. And actually I am equally convinced that Russia would not want to give up any of its sovereignty either.”

“Russia says it wants guarantees. We can give these by agreeing that our systems will not undermine the strategic balance. That they will strengthen each others security – and not weaken it,” Rasmussen said.


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