Missiles, friends and foes

Missile weapons and technologies are becoming ever more available, and a growing number of countries are interested in acquiring them.

For some, this is because missile technologies are closely linked with delivering weapons of mass destruction.

Clearly we should analyse the motives of certain countries that seek these weapons. And we should continue examining what Western countries and Russia can do together to successfully address the proliferation of WMD and means of its delivery. By its nature, this question is more political and diplomatic than military-technical.

Before creating ballistic-missile defence (BMD) systems and investing billions of dollars, it is important to understand the motivation of those who try to develop WMD and missile weapons at all costs. Are these “bad guys” so bad that they entertain ideas of a perfidious attack against Old Europe? Or do they want to raise their international clout and become members of the nuclear club by such perverse means?

Or, perhaps, are these countries trying to thwart foreign aggression? Iraq is a good example. The country was attacked under the pretext that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Washington knew this was not true, and despite that, decided to send its soldiers on a land operation. The problem is that other countries, not willing to share the fate of the Iraqi dictator, might now attempt to get hold of weapons of mass destruction and missiles.

Nonetheless, Russia does recognise the fact that missile challenges are gradually becoming a risk and a reality. This conclusion can be drawn from the Lisbon summit commitments made by Russia and NATO in November 2010. The Russian position is simple: European missile defences should be based on equal participation and a common indivisible security for all the countries of the continent.

This means that European missile defences should be a smart system, not overpriced, using pooled resources and protecting all European nations. It should be located in regions potentially at risk from missiles, i.e. the south. Why play “Star Wars” in northern Europe, where there are no threats?

President Dmitri Medvedev has made it clear that Russia is ready to conduct a comprehensive joint analysis of a framework for cooperation in this sphere. He has suggested that this project should be based on equality, transparency, technology and responsibility. He also put forward the idea of creating a “sectoral” ballistic-missile defence, with participants assuming responsibility for specific areas.

Russia views future cooperation with NATO on missile defences as an intermediate stage of building a strategic partnership with the alliance – the goal defined at the Lisbon summit meeting.

Real cooperation should help us get rid of the nightmares and phobia of the Cold War. It would give us a common task – an important and sophisticated one from both political and technological points of view. Our work would result in solid security and the restoration of European unity.

Russia and NATO should be completely sincere and honest with each other in creating the European BMD. There is no place for double standards. So to begin joint work we should give each other legal and political guarantees of mutual security.Russia does not want US anti-missile defences to extend to our territory, especially to its North European part, because should a negative scenario develop, this could upset the strategic balance of forces between our country and the United States. The missile-defence system should not be used against each other. For Russia it is a matter of principle to remove any threat to its strategic capabilities, which guarantee our sovereignty and independence.

The United States should ensure that its anti-missile capabilities are not aimed against Russian national interests. We are not yet aware what the architecture and parameters of the future European BMD are. But we do know what they should not be. Proposed as a project capable of alleviating threats for Europe in the future, this anti-missile shield should not create new threats far more serious than the notorious “Iranian missile threat.”

Moreover, a joint European missile-defence system will inevitably lead to abandoning military planning against each other, which will dramatically enhance mutual trust between Russia and the West. Conversely, a missile-defence system without Russia would return us to bloc politics, mutual suspicion and a new European arms race.

We suggest creating a common perimeter of missile defence with all ballistic-missile defence capabilities pointed outside the Euro-Atlantic region. It should be geared primarily for areas that could pose threats, and these in reality can only emanate from the south.

Russia counts on European states to show an active interest in this project. It is about the protection of Europe, and the stance of an idle observer that European diplomacy has assumed up to now is not quite clear to me.

We need a broad, expert discussion on a European ballistic-missile defence system, which could include the establishment of a group of “European wise men.” The European BMD project should be based on equal cooperation of all countries of the Continent.

Convinced of the historic necessity to preserve peace in Europe, Russia is trying to understand what exactly we were offered in Lisbon: lasting friendship or a redesign of ideas from the former US administration implying the creation of a third positioning area for a global US ballistic-missile defence, which Moscow has vigourously opposed. The security of the entire Euro-Atlantic region depends on the answer to this question.

Dmitry Rogozin is Russia’s ambassador to NATO and the special envoy of the president of Russia for interaction with NATO in anti-missile defence

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