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Russia Rejects US Offer On Missile Shield

Russian Air Force chief Vladimir Mikhailov on Thursday played down the missile shield's potential threat to Russia. "These systems don't provide any particular danger to us.... They have more political weight than military," he said, Interfax reported. "If they have money and nothing else to do with it, let them build it."

US makes four-point offer to Russia on missile cooperation
Brussels (AFP) April 19 - The United States has made a four-plank offer to Russia to help ease its fears about US plans for a missile shield in Europe, a NATO official said Thursday. The US offered to share early warning data about missile threats, proposed inter-operability between US and Russian missile systems, committed to holding joint exercises and suggested ideas for a new partnership, the official said. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate. The offer was made by a US delegation on Tuesday, ahead of talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels between senior NATO and Russian officials on Thursday. Washington announced in January plans to extend its anti-missile shield into Europe, but the move to install interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic have angered Russia.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) April 19, 2007
Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov rejected on Thursday an overture from the United States to cooperate on building a missile shield in Europe, Russian news agencies reported. "I honestly see no basis for speaking of possible cooperation on a strategic missile shield," Ivanov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Washington has tried to ease Russia's fears about the planned missile shield by offering to share the system's threat warnings and otherwise cooperate.

Ivanov held firm to Russia's criticism of the shield, however, saying: "We cannot understand what Eastern Europe needs this system for."

"What's more, a cheaper counter-measure can be found for any such system," he said.

Washington announced plans in January to extend its anti-missile shield into Europe by installing interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. Russia has responded angrily, rejecting the US contention that the shield was meant to protect against a possible attack from Iran, suggesting instead it would be directed against Russia.

Ivanov and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates may discuss the missile shield during a Moscow meeting next week, Ivanov said.

Senior US, NATO and Russian officials were also discussing the plans during talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.

However Russian Air Force chief Vladimir Mikhailov on Thursday played down the missile shield's potential threat to Russia.

"These systems don't provide any particular danger to us.... They have more political weight than military," he said, Interfax reported. "If they have money and nothing else to do with it, let them build it."

earlier related report
US battles to ease Russian fears about missile shield
Brussels (AFP) April 19 - The United States struggled Thursday to ease Russian fears about plans to extend its vast missile shield into Europe, as Moscow brushed off for the time being an offer to cooperate on the project.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, a US delegation persuaded Washington's partners that the shield poses no threat to Russia, even though Moscow is concerned the system could be widened in the future.

"The allies were convinced and are convinced that there are no implications of the United States' system for the strategic balance," NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said after the highest-level talks ever on the issue.

"Ten interceptors will not, cannot affect the strategic balance and 10 interceptors cannot pose a threat to Russia," he said, after meetings between the 26 NATO allies followed by a so-called NATO-Russia Council.

Washington announced in January plans to extend its missile shield into Europe to counter a potential missile attack from "rogue states" like Iran, and possibly North Korea.

It would involve 10 missile interceptors without warheads set up in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic to track any attack. This would be linked to an advance warning system, probably in the Caucasus.

The move has ruffled feathers in Russia, which is deeply concerned about its former Cold War foe setting up military shop in its back yard.

"We cannot understand what Eastern Europe needs this system for," First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, a former Russian defence minister, said Thursday.

Washington has tried to ease Russia's concerns by suggesting possible areas of cooperation, including sharing early warning missile data, but Ivanov appeared to reject the offer.

"I honestly see no basis for speaking of possible cooperation," he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Scheffer aknowledged "a difference in threat perception" between the allies and Russia. "There is a clearly a divide," he said.

But US Assistant Secretary of State John Rood, part of the senior three-man team charged with easing Russia's fears and European doubts, said that Moscow still plans to weigh the proposals.

"The representatives in the NATO-Russia Council today... indicated that the Russian government was going to study our proposal in greater detail before providing a more full response," he said.

Russian representative Konstantin Totsky conceded the offer had not been rejected yet, but he said that Moscow has grown tired of being dictated to by Washington.

"The US colleagues give us their proposals, and then we give them our proposals and we can continue like this for years and call it a process of consultation," he said.

"I think we should have a transition from consultation to dialogue and I think we started this dialogue today," he said, adding: "We will scrutinise these proposals and we will come back to our US colleagues."

He also expressed concern that the missile shield, set to come into operation around 2013, would continue to grow.

"We know from experience that when you have a system it keeps developing, it cannot stop," he warned.

European allies are concerned about the system too, particularly that it would leave members Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey uncovered, and they insisted on the "indivisibility" of the alliance's defences.

Spokesman James Appathurai said that NATO also discussed "bolting on" its planned theatre defence missile system -- aimed at protecting troops in the field but still only in the testing phase -- to the shield to cover the hole.

In any case, talks are set to continue.

Ivanov and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates may discuss the plan during a Moscow meeting next week, and the NATO allies will take it up again when alliance foreign ministers hold talks in Olso next Thursday.

earlier related report
NATO highlights Iran threat in missile message to Russia
Brussels (AFP) April 19 - The 26 NATO allies said Thursday that Europe faces a potential missile threat from Iran as they sought to reassure Russia that a planned US missile shield was not a threat to Moscow.

"There was agreement that there is a threat to Europe of missiles," NATO chief spokesman James Appathurai told reporters at NATO headquarters after talks on missile defence between senior alliance representatives.

"Many nations called it a growing threat, but certainly agreement that there was a threat," he said.

"Iran was named as one of the countries that could potentially pose a missile threat to Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community," he said.

Washington announced in January plans to extend its missile shield into Europe to counter a potential missile attack from "rogue states" like Iran, and possibly North Korea.

It would see a bank of 10 missile interceptors set up in Poland and a radar system to track any attack in the Czech Republic. This would be linked to an advance warning system somewhere in the Caucasus.

The move has ruffled feathers in Russia, which is deeply concerned about its former Cold War foe setting up military shop in its back yard, and Moscow has threatened to take action to counter it.

But Appathurai said the NATO allies agreed that Russia had little to fear.

"There was a sentiment that the missile defence proposals that are currently under discussion cannot pose any threat to Russia's capabilities nor change the strategic balance in any way," he said.

However he noted that the 26 countries agreed that "there should be, is and will continue to be full transparency not only within the alliance but also with the Russian federation".

His remarks came ahead of talks Thursday between NATO members and a Russian delegation, which is expected to outline in detail its objections to the US missile shield.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US Releases Technical Details On Missile Shield In Central Europe
Washington (RIA Novosti) Apr 19, 2007
The U.S. administration has disclosed the technical parameters of a missile defense system to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic. A Fact Sheet released by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs says the U.S. is planning to field ten U.S. long-range ground-based missile defense interceptors in Poland and a mid-course radar in the Czech Republic in order to counter the growing threat of missile attacks from the Middle East.







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