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No signs Russia will tear up arms control treaties: US

Russia is freezing cooperation with NATO in a number of areas to protest against the Western alliance's stance on Georgia but will not halt assistance on Afghanistan, Russia's NATO envoy said Tuesday. Dmitry Rogozin told journalists in Moscow that NATO's reaction to the conflict in the Caucasuswas "inappropriate, dishonest, hypocritical and deeply cynical," and accused the alliance of having "a narrow, bloc-based approach as if they were frozen in the Stone Age of the Cold War."

But despite the intensity of his criticism over Georgia, a more conciliatory Rogozin was also at pains to spell out that cooperation will be maintained in a number of specific areas. "Russia's military leadership has announced that it will stop military cooperation with NATO, and I would like to clarify what this means," Dmitry Rogozin told journalists in Moscow. Moscow will freeze visits to Russia by NATO officials, including a planned October visit by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Rogozin said. Russian forces will suspend participation in joint military exercises and in Operation Active Endeavour, an anti-terrorism patrol of the Mediterranean Sea, while NATO warships will not be allowed to dock in Russian ports, he said.

But Moscow plans to maintain cooperation on anti-drug trafficking efforts, including the training of Afghan counter-narcotics police at a facility near Moscow, he said. "The position of the leadership of the country is that Afghanistan is a shared problem," Rogozin said. "The Taliban has recently demonstrated maximum activity. "As far as overland transport to Afghanistan is concerned... we do not plan to touch this," he said, referring to a deal signed in April allowing NATO to transport through Russia non-military freight destined for Afghanistan.

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Aug 25, 2008
The United States said Monday there were no indications Russia would renege on arms reduction pacts, such as the START I nuclear weapons treaty, following the conflict over Georgia but warned that such a move "will be crossing a new threshold."

"We don't have any indication that the Russians plan to move away from agreements like the START treaty or Moscow treaty or the INF agreement," said Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Rood.

"And I think that would have obvious implications, not only for the United States relationship, but for relations with a lot of other countries," he said when asked about the prospect of Moscow tearing up arms reduction pacts amid increasingly tense relations after Russian troops moved into Georgia.

Aside from the START I treaty aimed at limiting each side's intercontinental nuclear arsenals, the United States and Russia have a Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) or Moscow Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Rood noted that talks on issues of strategic security between the two sides "occurred even in the toughest times of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union" and he expected the situation to remain the same.

"Russia is not the Soviet Union. But, nonetheless, I think we would still want to have a dialogue, have an ongoing conversation with the Russian government about strategic security issues," he added.

Russian troops rolled into Georgia on August 8 to fight off a Georgian offensive to retake the pro-Russian breakaway South Ossetia. They have since refused to completely withdraw under a peace plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Following Western condemnations, Moscow has threatened to cut off links with NATO and has already broken off some trade agreements reached during negotiations for it to join the World Trade Organisation.

Rood said that the Russians, prior to the Georgian conflict, had "expressed strong interest in a new treaty as a follow on to the START agreement, which expires next year.

He pointed out that Washington was similarly keen on such a deal even though it had made it clear that it would not be "business as usual" with Moscow unless Russian troops withdrew from Georgia and abided by the ceasefire.

"We in the United States have an interest in pursuing that. We remain interested in negotiating such an agreement with the Russians, he said.

"I don't think that has changed and also I would hasten to add what we have said is that 'we are not going to conduct business as usual with Russia.'"

Rood said that based on Russia's last START declarations, it had about 850 intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs.

The missiles, he pointed out, were not threatened by a recently signed US-Poland plan to base 10 interceptor missiles in the ex-communist nation.

"Ten interceptors versus that force, with thousands of nuclear warheads, is not a credible threat. And it's not intended to be one," Rood said.

Moscow is deeply opposed to the missile plan.

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NATO insists Russia ties depend on Georgia plan compliance
Brussels (AFP) Aug 25, 2008
NATO insisted Monday that its ties with Russia hinge on Moscow's compliance with a Georgian peace plan, after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned of a possible break in relations.







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