Senior NATO commander to talk Euro missile shield in Moscow

NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis and Russia’s Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov will make another attempt to overcome the deadlock in Russia-NATO talks on European missile defense during their meeting in Moscow on Monday.

Makarov and Stavridis are expected to discuss “the current state and prospects of Russia-NATO cooperation in the military sphere,” including the creation of the European missile shield, and address “relevant regional and international security issues,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said on Monday the talks between Moscow and the alliance on European missile defense have yielded “zero results.” 

“Our partners are not going to make any serious advances during the talks,” he said, adding that NATO leadership was interested in “lowering the profile” of media coverage of the talks “in order to hide its principal refusal to… consider Russia’s objective demands from the public.”

He reiterated that NATO should provide Moscow with legal guarantees that its projected European missile defense shield will not be directed at Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed concerns on Sunday that Moscow’s disagreements with NATO over the issue could lead to a new arms race. In an interview with Russia’s Profil political weekly, the minister said Russia had its own defense projects allowing Moscow “not to worry about our security under any circumstance” while avoiding “additional serious expenses.”

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on European missile defense system at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010. President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a joint system with full-scale interoperability to ensure that NATO’s system will not be directed against Moscow. The alliance, however, favors two independent systems which exchange information.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned last week that by refusing to provide legal guarantees on its missile shield, NATO could miss the chance to “turn anti-missile defense from an area of confrontation into an area of cooperation.”

Anti-piracy cooperation

During his stay in the Russian capital, the U.S. official will also meet with Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky to discuss cooperation between Russia and NATO in fighting sea piracy, including the prospects of Russia’s participation in the NATO-led counter-terrorism Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean Sea.

Russian joined the operation, which was launched after the 9/11 attacks, in February 2006, but temporarily withdrew from the project in the summer of 2010.

On Tuesday, Stavridis will also visit the Volga city of Volgograd, where he will meet with Russia’s Southern Military District commanders.

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