U.S. Suspending Missile Defense Cooperation Talks with Russia

Global Security Newswire Staff
March 27, 2014, 9 a.m.

Wash­ing­ton is halt­ing talks with Mo­scow that were aimed at im­prov­ing un­der­stand­ing and co­oper­a­tion around mis­sile de­fense in re­sponse to events in Ukraine.

The bi­lat­er­al an­ti­mis­sile talks had not seen much trac­tion in re­cent years, even be­fore Rus­sia’s in­cur­sion in Ukraine and an­nex­a­tion of Crimea put them in­to a deep-freeze. The dis­cus­sions were aimed at as­suaging the Krem­lin’s con­cern that U.S. mis­sile in­ter­cept­ors planned for field­ing in the com­ing years in Ro­mania and Po­land were no threat to Rus­sia’s long-range nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al.

Elaine Bunn, deputy as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary of De­fense for nuc­le­ar and mis­sile de­fense policy at a Tues­day con­gres­sion­al hear­ing said, “With re­gard to talks with Rus­sia on trans­par­ency and co­oper­a­tion, Rus­sia’s in­ter­ven­tion in Ukraine in vi­ol­a­tion of in­ter­na­tion­al law led to the sus­pen­sion of our mil­it­ary-to-mil­it­ary dia­logues, in­clud­ing [De­fense De­part­ment] ci­vil­ians, and we have sub­sequently not con­tin­ued to en­gage Rus­sia on the top­ic of mis­sile de­fense,” the Wash­ing­ton Times re­por­ted.

Pres­id­ent Obama re­portedly sent Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin a let­ter last May pro­pos­ing that the two na­tions de­vel­op a bind­ing ac­cord that would per­mit the ex­change of cer­tain data, aimed at con­firm­ing that their re­spect­ive an­ti­mis­sile sys­tems did not threaten one an­oth­er’s nuc­le­ar de­terrent forces.

The Pentagon In 2012 ac­know­ledged it was con­sid­er­ing sup­ply­ing Rus­sia with in­form­a­tion on the “ve­lo­city at burnout” of the Stand­ard Mis­sile 3 in­ter­cept­ors planned for field­ing in Europe, in or­der to prove they were not fast enough to tar­get Rus­si­an stra­tegic mis­siles.

At this week’s hear­ing of the House Armed Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee on Stra­tegic Forces, Bunn and the Pentagon’s Mis­sile De­fense Agency dir­ect­or, Vice Adm. James Syr­ing, said they did not sup­port provid­ing Mo­scow with the SM-3 burnout rate in­form­a­tion.

Cit­ing the “un­cer­tainty of where that in­form­a­tion would go,” Syr­ing said it was his “firm re­com­mend­a­tion not to re­lease it.” 

Mean­while, Obama used a high-pro­file speech in Brus­sels, Bel­gi­um, on Wed­nes­day to call for a stronger NATO armed forces pres­ence in Cent­ral and East­ern Europe to de­ter Rus­sia from mount­ing fur­ther ter­rit­ori­al in­cur­sions, the Los Angeles Times re­por­ted.

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