NATO has rejected Russia’s proposals for cooperation on a European missile defence, the Russian defence chief said even as both sides vowed to continue talks.
“We have not received any positive and intelligible response. Our concerns have not been dispelled,” Russia’s Defence Minister Antoly Serdyukov told reporters after a ministerial-level meeting of the Russia-NATO council in Brussels on Wednesday. “NATO is not heeding for the moment Russian proposals on missile defences.”
At its summit in November, NATO had agreed to explore the possibility of cooperating with Russia in building a missile shield over Europe, but Mr. Serdyukov said that a joint working group set up for the purpose has achieved hardly any results.
“We have failed to agree either on an ultimate goal of cooperation or on the shape and structure of missile defences,” the Russian defence chief said.
Russia has proposed either building a single jointly-operated ant imissile system or dividing the European continent into two sectors of military responsibility that would overlap. NATO has rejected both proposals.
“The reason is simple — NATO cannot outsource to non-members collective defense obligations which bind its members,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
He also dismissed Russian demands for a legal guarantee that the European missile shield was not to target Russia’s nuclear missiles.
“NATO’s position is unacceptable to Russia,” the Russian Defence Minister said. “By 2020, Europe may have a missile shield that could neutralise Russia’s strategic potential.”
In such a turn of events, Russia “will be forced to look for ways of overcoming this shield, which would trigger off a new arms race,” he warned.
Mr. Serdyukov and Mr. Rasmussen both pledged to continue talks to narrow down differences.