Russia and NATO still at odds over missile shield
President Obama and Russian President Medvedev meet in Prague in April 2010 just before they signed the New START treaty, a pact that would cut each country's nuclear arsenal.
May 2nd, 2012
05:47 PM ET

Russia and NATO still at odds over missile shield

By Mike Mount

The United States does not expect an agreement with Russia this year to settle a dispute about a U.S.-backed plan to place an anti-ballistic missile shield in countries around Europe, according to the senior U.S. government officials leading a U.S. delegation to a missile defense conference in Moscow this week.

The admission comes just over a month after President Barack Obama unknowingly spoke into an open microphone to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev saying he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate on missile defense after the U.S. elections.

The U.S. officials now openly acknowledge there will be no agreement this year.

Speaking to reporters on the phone from Russia on Wednesday, Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense, and Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global and strategic affairs, said because the United States is in an election year and Russia is just coming out of one, there is too much uncertainty for there to be an agreement.

"I think it's pretty clear that this is a year in which we are not going to achieve any sort of a breakthrough, and President Obama and President Medvedev agreed to let the technical experts to do the work of better understanding our respective decisions," Tauscher said.

The two are in Moscow to attend a missile defense conference hosted by the Russian Ministry of Defense, where the United States plans to again make its case to Russia.

Russia has long said early warning missile detection radars and anti-ballistic missiles would undermine its strategic nuclear deterrent, but the United States has maintained that the system is not designed to target Russian nuclear missiles but a ballistic missile threat from the Middle East, such as Iran.

The United States and NATO have been in discussions with the Russians, explaining how the system will work and trying to alleviate their worries about the system, according to Tauscher. Russia has also been invited to be a part of the shield because the missile threat from the Middle East could involve them as well, according to Tauscher and Creedon.

"The system we are deploying in Europe to defend our European allies and the United States against a Middle East threat is not oriented against Russia, We feel very confident that it would be a game changer," Creedon said alluding to an improvement in relations between the two countries if Russia did agree to the missile shield deployment.

But missile defense and NATO experts say Russia has long considered NATO a national security threat and has been making excuses for years to try to stall the missile shield's deployment.

"The Russians have been uncomfortable with the whole endeavor and (are) not keen to see it go forward in an alliance context," said Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council and a former special assistant to the president on the National Security Council.

"At the end of the day, they (Russia) will only come around to negotiate a deal with NATO when this is absolutely inevitable," Wilson said.

Russia has also proposed a legally binding agreement for the United States to sign that would hold NATO to using the anti-missile system for a Middle East ballistic missile threat and not retune it to use against Russian missiles.

"We cannot agree to any limitations on our missile defense deployments," Tauscher said, referring to Russia's proposal.

"We do not want to be limited on our system by Russia that is not even about Russia," according to Wilson.

"Negotiating a legally binding agreement with the Russians that are unilateral where the restrictions are on the U.S. side over a system that is strategically not related to Russia takes you down a very difficult and dangerous policy path," Wilson continued.

An anti-missile radar is already in place in Turkey, and the United States is planning to keep moving forward despite Russian concerns.

"There is nothing that I can imagine that will stop us from making those deployments on time," Tauscher said.

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  81. Valdi

    The missile defense shield enables a surprise attack attack on Russia, with all military and political consequences – this will not be tolerated, whether any one likes it, or not. Security can be achieved either for all, or for none. This idea, that the US has a special right to dominate other nations is being cultivated within the US, especially after the fall of SU, but is not accepted any where else. Some countries, regions are working towards an emancipated position. Russia has had a weak decade from 1990 till 2000, but it is reestablishing it's position in the world. Russians want peace, but they have their experience with western countries, and will not allow to be it self in a weaker position as NATO, which is good for all. We do not want to be dominated by Russians, Chinese, or US – it is good for our all freedoms if every country can be made accountable for it's deeds. Best.

    May 4, 2012 at 8:04 am | Reply
    • Catamount

      @Valdi, I appreciate that perspective except I think you inflate America's desire to "dominate." If we wanted to militarily dominate, we already could have. You're ascribing a nonexistent motive to the US. With nuclear and missile technology proliferation, it's irresponsible to hope nobody uses weaponized rockets. A national defense based on hope? Poor course of action.

      I don't think the US and Russia should be adversarial. We have far more in common, like Salafist Islam and an ambitious China seeking hegemon expansion. I agree there's alot of brain power and natural resources in Russia, and as the values of freedom supplant the dying generation's values of communism and statism, where all things come from the government, Russia will naturally percolate back to the top of nations.

      You sound like that nutjob in Belarus that stays in power pretending an invasion is imminent, alot like Kim Jong Il does in North Korea. Obama's challenge is to assuage Russian anxiety on the purpose of a missile shield – defense against rogue states. Unfortunately, Obama and his secretary of state are completely inept.

      May 4, 2012 at 8:30 am | Reply
      • Valdi

        Thanks for your input. US economy and position in the world since WWII is depending on US$ being a world reserve currency. Only this factor enables it to maintain the army it has, to use 45% of world energy resource, being just 6% of world population, ect. However, it does bring the dilemma of Triffin, which will eventually change the monetary world system.

        The only way to maintain the willingness of many countries to accept the position of the US$ is to bind it to crude oil trade, since 1974 OPEC, and to "defend" the world from communism, now Russia. Once you know the motives, you can see through all recent deeds – Iraq, Georgia, .. the Arab spring: protecting Saudis, Bahrain, and sacrificing Egypt, ect. Best.

        May 4, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Walt

      Can you please provide a source for you data? The US imports 26 percent the majority is created domestically. As a matter of fact the US is the 2 nd largest consumer of energy, China surrpassed the US 2 years ago, On a per capita basis, the US is 7 th a position it has kept since the 1970's.

      If the US is protecting Saudi oil interests than explain to me how Gazprom was able to quadruple it's natural gas exports to the US in the last 6 years? Why did Goldman Sacs save it from bankruptcy in the 90"s

      You Russians have Ben ranting about a US attack on your country for the last 70 years. When is this attack coming? The US had a complete monopoly on nuclear weopens In the 1940s and what happened? Russia was unae to strike the US with mica until the med 1950s , did it launch an attack? Why does Russia get to build it's own ABM and other countries can't?

      If OPEC hates Russia than he feeling is mutual. Russia has been destabilizing the middle east since the early 50. First with the Russian puppet Nassar than the Assad family, a soviet trained pilot. These countries Armed hizbollah, PKK and the PLO. What's happening to these Russian puppets is called blow back

      May 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
      • Valdi

        Dear Walt,
        Thanks for your remark. I think you have thrown couple different facts together. Lets order them little bit:
        1. US is using ca. eight ton crude oil equivalent per year per capita. Germany, which is similar industrialized, uses 4 tons.
        2. The monopoly of nuclear weapons was very short, and was planned to last much longer. SU succeed to have the nuclear weapon much earlier (1949) and established a balance of power before any potential plans could have been brought to reality. Please have in mind, that it was the US who used two nuclear bombs on civil cities in a situation without threat for it's own security.
        3. Regarding the US$ currency as a world reserve means: Here the US has an advantage and disadvantage at once (Triffin dilema). On the one side, US can afford for it self to print the currency, to disperse it in to the world economy and practically to receive real goods for paper. This is the only factor, which enables the US to maintain an possess so many things over its own economic capacity.
        However, because the world economy is growing it needs always additional money supply to balance the additional amount of goods an services each year are produced in excess. The markets in the globalization era are open, and therefore the foreign excessive goods and services are being offered first in US to attain the much needed world currency directly from the source. This undermines the US manufacturers so they either have to outsource, or to underpay the US labor. Furthermore, as a result the country is running a negative current account balance, the debt is rising at the pace of the world economy growth.
        This position has brought the US so far, that it has become very depended on the current status quo and would have to down size military, social spending, consumer spending, housing subsidies, ect. to a significant degree, if this mechanism would stop at some point.
        There are two views how to deal on it: Either you continue the same pattern, and try to maintain the existing imperial status, or you start to prepare the US economy the own society, and the world for the inevitable change.

        So far, it seems that the political establishment is choosing the first option: Cost it what it takes – wars, propaganda, delusion, politics, ect. – all means seem to be appropriate to hold onto the US$ as a world currency.

        However, every reasonable and educated person would agree, that it can not be long term sustainable to run a trade deficit for ever – since 1975 each year ca. 5%.

        The problem is, that the country is too much influenced by the big capital, there is a very limited choice of political alternatives (Democrats, Republicans are basically running the same politics), the media is controlled by few oligarchs in the same sense, the majority of the public is misinformed, misguided and therefor paralyzed.

        The problem is, that most of the Americans do not know how much dependent their country became.
        The whole world is working towards divorcing it self from the US Dollar. It may come as planned in 2018, or later. I would prefer my people to be prepared for this day – is any one talking about this problem? Where are our representatives, journalists? Do they care? Or who is suppressing this discussion?

        May 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  82. andrew

    I doubt that one of the previous 'contributors' have lived in Russia or know any Russians.
    I lived 2002-2010 during both Putins presidencies in Moscow and St Petersburg until the world economy turned to custard.
    Remind yourselves where that began.

    Russia began to flourish.
    2003 the 300 year birthday celebrations of St Petersburg were particularly poignant.
    In 2004/2005 they actually increased the national pension- although meagre.
    Which other country has done similar?

    Yet America always needs a bad guy to define itself, a bogeyman, another bin laden.

    There is little difference between a Russian and an American , but Romney would have you believe otherwise.
    His attitude demonstrates his own uneducated parochial cold war anachronistic and 20th century jingoism.

    There may not have been a democracy in Russia at any time in recent history.
    Putin in 2004 called it a 'managed democracy' and if you understand democracy at all, an adjective is never required. It is either democratic in practise or it is not democracy.

    Russia is not the enemy.
    They do pursue their own interests which is entirely normal.
    Remember they lost 60 million during world war and the siege of Leningrad is still remembered and celebrated each year as is victory day May 9.

    Educated Russians lament their lack of technological progress following perestoika, particularly the last 20 year, yet the nuclear reactor outside St Petersburg functions safely predictably and provides electricity to 6 million people.
    I doubt there is any call for conspiracies because they supplied technology and built a nuclear reactor in Iran who in 2009 had yet to pay for the privilege!

    If anything Russia could become a valuable ally against existential international threats.
    i do not believe the cold war is alive neither should it be resurrected.

    May 4, 2012 at 6:05 am | Reply
    • nika

      Andrew Georgia done more and Russia just copy past their reforms, it was confessed by

      May 4, 2012 at 7:21 am | Reply
  83. Yakobi

    Why should we need an agreement with Soviet Union 2.0 to deploy an anti-missile system to Europe? JUST DO IT!

    Ever since Putin was "elected", Russia has proven it's an enemy to peace. They invaded Ossetia, build nuclear reactors in Iran, and support the evil Assad regime in Syria. Why should we kowtow to them???

    May 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • Valdi

      Dear Yakobi, from Russian point of view, since hundreds of years countries have changed, political systems have changed, societies have changed – but still, Russia being 20% of world landmass, holding 40% of world resources, is an object which wakes certain ambitions. At first it was Europe, which conquered the world in search for resources and markets, in recent history it is US which is dominating economically and militarily the world. No wander it is applying all means available to destabilize Russia, since it is the only country in the world, which can, and will prevent its desired hegemony. Your attitude towards Russia, as of many others, reflects only how effective the US propaganda works in manipulating it's own population, and those of other countries. Very sad, since we are looking in to more tensions, cold war in the future, and as in the past, the price for it will be paid by small countries yet again, like Vietnam, Korea, Israel.

      May 4, 2012 at 8:26 am | Reply
  84. Mopery

    The Cold War is most definitely NOT over. The Russians still have their nuclear arsenal ready to launch at any moment against the United States, and vice versa. We're still 45 minutes from annihilation, yet American media fills our empty heads with drug advertisements and pop culture fodder.

    In case you missed it, today the Russians threatened a preemptive strike on our missile defense systems in Europe, and it doesn't even make the top headline on CNN.

    Their idea of using a "preemptive strike" comes from our first retarded President, George W. Bush, and his legacy of international recklessness. The Iraq war was bad enough to destroy our economy, but his "missile defense" might well bring us a nuclear war and the destruction of our planet. No one can win a nuclear war, the human race will go extinct.

    May 3, 2012 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • AlexShch

      Overall well said, Mopery, however...

      <> - actually the term "preemptive strike" was coined first by State. Sec. Madeleine Albright during Clinton era back in 199x. Remember that? This was about Bosnia and Dayton Agreement. Also word "clintonian" has nothing to do with Monica Lewinsky. It was first used Sen. McCain while criticizing too passive (in his opinion) foreign policy during the first half of Clinton's administration, remember him saying - "President Clinton abrogated this country obligation to democracy across the World. He took vacation from History!" - eventually Clinton took seriously his advice by replacing anemic St. Sec. Warren Christopher with high-performance Sec. Albright: she can unscrew, bend, twist, and screw things up again five times faster!

      The current nuclear posture of Russia - specifically explicitly acknowledging for the first time the possibility of first use of nuclear weapons, including against non-nuclear countries, including against third-party countries who are not directly at war with Russia, but whose territory is used as a staging ground to attack Russia, including the situation when such use is against the will of the government of this third party - is the outcome of NATO bombing of Yugostavia in March-June 1999. This posture will stand for now regardless of any future "resets" - the damage made then is simply too strong to forget easily. Previous Soviet Doctrine was "no first use".

      Finally, I tend to agree with your characterization of G.W.B. (modesty prevents me from repeating your words), but I strongly doubt that he was THE FIRST among this kind. I nominate Pres. Harry Truman but there are some other bright personalities as well.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
      • walter

        Actually, you both are wrong. The term has been used for centuries, and the USSR certaintly used this strategy on multiple occasions. I suggest you google the Finnish-Soviet war, molotov-von ribbon trop pact, Soviet invasion of Hungry 1956, Czech in 1968 and later Afganistan in the late 70's. The Russian justified all of these conflicts in the name of defense.

        As for missle deffense, the USA is under no legal obligation to stay within the treaty. The Russians violated that treaty on multiple occasions, most notably the illegal radar in Kranoyarsk. Russia has been building its own missle defense for years. Google S-400

        But you a right when you say the cold war was never over. The Russians continued to fund and arm "freedom fighters" in Colombia, Serbia, Palastine and the govenments of Cuba, Syria and Nicarugua. For the last 18 years it has been helping Iran obtain nuclear capabilities. But hey, only Russia is allowed to be provoked by such matters.

        May 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • US citizen

      "An anti-missile radar is already in place in Turkey, and the United States is planning to keep moving forward despite Russian concerns."
      Very smart move – meaning "we dont give sh#$ about your concerns. The problem is – we HAVE to be concerned about Worls Powers like Russa. This is not Vietnam with no weapons. This is clear message to start another arm race that will end with total distruction of our planet. Any war consists of two parts – defence and attack. No one would believe that a missile systems can be deployed and no nuclar strike on that site will happen.

      May 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
      • Walt

        Justifying a premetive strike on a siverign nation for pursuing its interests? Wow you sound worse than those neocons.

        I guess based on your reasoning Iran and nort Korea shouldn't expect not to be attacked. I guess the EU should launch preemptive war on Russia for placing it's own missle defense in Kaliningrad?

        May 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
      • AlexShch

        "we dont give sh#$" - this is exactly why Russia should maintain a credible arsenal of nuclear weapons - to deter some r e d n e c k i d i o t s like you. This is and inherent part of what you would call "the system of checks and balances". It fundamentally protects American People by constraining lunacy of some politicians some American People elect in Free and Democratic elections.

        May 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  85. ILoveCheerios

    Reds are getting big again

    May 3, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
  86. grooveclubhouse

    "russia wants a legally binding agreement to not use the shield against their missiles"? OH.. yeah sure! Why dont I install a home alarm system and set it to NOT go off if my neighbors break in. Its like they are saying "oh yes we want the option to nuke you later". Really guys? The cold war is over.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • Mopery

      The Cold War is far from over, our nuclear arsenal is just as ready to go as it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and so is the Russian's. Mutual Assured Destruction is still the only thing preventing a nuclear war, and by the U.S. putting anti-ballistic missiles on the Russian doorstep, we threaten that balance.

      We do not have the ability to bring down enough of their missiles to prevent our own destruction, and they will not allow us to reach the point that we could. Our anti-ballistic missile systems have a very high failure rate according to testing, and even if we had 1000 missiles that worked flawlessly the Russians would still hit us with 9000 nukes.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
      • MistahBurns

        Russia does not have over ten thousand nuclear war heads. Before you try to post and assert your knowledge on the subject you should check your facts.

        May 3, 2012 at 11:46 am |
      • walter

        If our missles can't bring down enough Russian nukes than what is the problem? Russia continues to advance its own missle defense, why cant we do the same?

        Secondly, buiding Nuclear reactors in Iran also tips the balance of power.

        May 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
      • AlexShch

        MistahBurns: there is a kind of loophohe in counting rules in now defunct SORT Treaty thanks to G.W.B. in 2002: he proposed to count "deployed warheads" leaving all others outside the scope of the agreement. These counting rules were essentially inherited by the New START.

        Pay attention to word "deployed"

        Also let me clarify this: Nuclear Arms Control Treaties (incl. all of them, SALT 1, 2, START, INF, etc..) do not restrict and never restricted the number of warheads per se. Instead they restrict possession certain types of delivery systems: basically how many warheads each side can deliver to to the other side in a IMMEDIATE SINGLE action (i.e., potential rearming of reusable launchers by bombs and missiles from storage does not count - basically every missile silo, bomber, or a submarine are considered as single use, even though in reality they are reusable).

        These "deployed" warheads are currently restricted by number of slightly less that 2000, I believe (officially 1550, but there are loopholes and asymmetries in counting rules).

        In addition to than there is an unspecified number of "tactical" warheads, believed to be around 30,000 in Russia, but is not an official figure and the truth is that we do not know.

        Technically term "tactical" means deployed on a missile with range less than 500km (restricted by INF treaty) launched from a non-strategic aircraft (in reality Tu-22M fall into this category; while B-1B is officially "retired")
        or a ship.

        The bottom line is that we do not know how many warheads are out there and what kind of/how many delivery vehicles.

        May 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • US citizen

      And Russians don't place their missle shield in Canada or Mexico – how interesting?

      May 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
      • Walt

        In light of the fact the Russia spans more time zones than any other country on the planet, it doesn't need to place anything in Canada or Mexico, Siberia and its territories in the artic circle are close enough to US territory.

        May 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm |


    May 3, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
    • Yakobi

      Was that English? Or are you posting from Pakistan?

      May 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  88. Wonderful

    Wonderful to see Obama, the commander in chief leading this tough negotiating, What a great picture, Obama looking so assertive, and in control- gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I wonder if the Russians had a chance to see Obama on his knees, apologizing for America to dictators, and/or his church pastor shouting how he hates america. I wonder what impression that gives the Russians in regards, to how committed this 'president' is to the best interests of the United States. But, I have to say a great picture!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
    • The REAL Truth...

      What wonderful bigoted commentary – wonderful!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am | Reply
    • derek

      nothing in your pathetic, uneducated rant has actually happened so of course they didn't see it you silly goose. Now put your sheet back on and go back to banging your sister.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • AlexShch

      Honestly I see nothing wrong with the way how Obama looks like on this photo. What is your point?

      May 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Reply
    • Catamount

      @Wonderful, you're right. Obama has unilaterally disarmed the US nuclear inventory a classified but estimated 80% in exchange for what? Russia not supporting Assad in Syria? Russia not snubbing Obama's pathetic Iranian embargo by not buying their oil? Russia not exporting nuclear and missile technologies to rogue regimes, so long as they have money?

      Who didn't hear the open mic gaffe Obama to Medvedev: "I will unilaterally disarm the US when I have more flexibility after I win re election." If Obama were president during the Cold War, he'd lay prone on the bed and spread his cheeks for Russia.

      May 4, 2012 at 8:40 am | Reply
  89. helenecha

    Well, it’s always good news for people to see that both countries are friendly while sitting around the table and negotiating with businesses. Congratulations!

    May 3, 2012 at 12:22 am | Reply
  90. Everett Wallace

    Should we really be speaking about the techies of this with anyone besides the Pentagon.

    May 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  91. Issac

    Israel must come first. We need the protection promised to us by the united states.

    Russia will not destroy Israel. Islam will.

    Discussion should be over the war on Islam.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
    • //////////

      I'm not a particularly religious person, but I pray that I live to see the day when the US stops funding Israel.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:03 am | Reply
    • Jewee

      im a fellow jew and i for one must tell you to shut up becuase we are like .2 percent of the world shaddup with the quibbiling yes you are right islam is destroying america, israel not russia gd

      May 3, 2012 at 1:51 am | Reply
      • AlexShch

        an interesting thought.. Am I understand you correctly - sounds like Israel to US: "Please continue doing what are you doing, but do not say anything about openly".

        May 3, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Tom Clark

      Why should US taxpayers have to fund Israel? The have God on their side, right?

      May 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
      • AlexShch

        Yes, you got it.

        May 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

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