18.9.09

U.S. move to scrap missile shield could boost Russia-West ties

The deployment of a missile defense system close to Russia's borders has been postponed for an indefinite period. This is the perfect time for promoting military technical cooperation between Russia and the United States.

According to analysts of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of World Economy and International Relations, most American generals do not view Russia as a potential enemy in the medium term. This means that Washington will no longer pressure Moscow during consultations ahead of signing a new strategic arms control treaty, and Russia may bargain for better conditions.

However, the U.S. is unlikely to have abandoned its ABM plans for Europe, although Russia may now have a say in choosing the new deployment sides.

Moscow should not think that the United States has halted its European ABM plans exclusively because of the Kremlin's firm stance, and therefore should not refuse to consider concessions during bilateral talks.

Russia should consider supporting some sanctions against Iran and stop supplying some types of weapons to it. It should also negotiate a broader transit of military cargo to Afghanistan across Russia, including by land.

If Russia persists in its non-negotiable stance, this will only strengthen the positions of American hawks and the East European lobbies, which consider any concessions to Russia to be counter-productive.

However, if Moscow pursues a flexible policy at the upcoming bilateral talks, this will give it greater chances of promoting cooperation with the United States and NATO. Washington's refusal to build a missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic gives Russia a fresh chance to develop the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan and the Armavir radar in Russia into a full-scale alternative to the proposed East European ABM facilities.

Some countries in southern and central Europe, which believed that the ABM systems in the Czech Republic and Poland would not protect them from potential Iranian or North Korean missile strikes, will get a chance to negotiate the deployment of anti-missiles and tracking radars in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.

Moreover, everyone now has a unique chance to develop multilateral exchange of information on missile launches. One can even dream, albeit cautiously, about a multinational ABM system involving Russia, which would protect the world from terrorist attacks and unpredictable regimes, and would not be targeted against Russia.

Gazeta.ru

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