Russia's general staff chief, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, on Friday urged the United States to seek common ground with Moscow on missile defense, Reuters reported (see GSN, May 3).
Russia's top military officer met with his U.S. counterpart, Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, in St. Petersburg shortly after the Kremlin voiced umbrage over Washington's recent announcement that it would deploy missile interceptors at a Romanian air base no later than 2015 (see GSN, May 5).
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"We need to seek common approaches and breakthrough positions on this issue," Makarov was reported by ITAR-Tass to have said after his meeting with Mullen.
Makarov said he wanted to see Moscow and Washington come to an understanding on missile defense "despite a huge quantity of different opinions and differences in Russia and the United States on this issue."
Mullen restated the U.S. position that the planned European missile shield is not a threat to the Russian strategic arsenal. The Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach" for European missile defense calls for increasingly advanced sea- and land-based missile interceptors to gradually be deployed around the continent. The U.S. system would be folded into a broader NATO antimissile initiative.
"The system is in no way aimed against Russia and its people," Mullen said.
The White House maintains that its planned missile shield is meant to protect Europe from a missile attack from the Middle East. The Obama plan replaces a George W. Bush-era proposal to field 10 long-range interceptors in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic.
The Kremlin vehemently opposed the Bush administration's plans and remains wary of the U.S. proposal to deploy more limited-range interceptors around Europe. Moscow has demanded an equal role with NATO in the planned missile shield, suggesting that each side assume responsibility for eliminating missiles flying across a specific geographic region. Washington has said it would never place NATO states' missile protection in the hands of Moscow.
Russia has also called for a legally binding pledge that the NATO system would not be aimed at its nuclear-armed missiles (Steve Gutterman, Reuters/Yahoo!News, May 6).
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