Missile Defense Key to Developing US-Russian Ties – MP

Russian Duma Building

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, June 10, 2013) ­ Resolving differences between Russia and the United States over missile defense is key to developing bilateral relations, a senior Russian lawmaker said Monday.

“Missile defense has become a key issue: If we find a common language here, we could speak of a beginning of new positive dynamics in US-Russian relations,” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, said at a RIA Novosti press conference.

Pushkov said Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, were expected to discuss missile defense, which remains a sticking point in bilateral ties, at the upcoming G8 summit in Northern Ireland’s Lough Erne on June 17-18.

Russia and NATO had initially agreed at the Lisbon summit in November 2010 to cooperate with a US-proposed missile defense system in Eastern Europe. But further talks between Russia and the alliance have floundered over NATO’s refusal to grant Russia legal guarantees that the system would not be aimed at Russian nuclear deterrence forces.

NATO and the United States insist that the shield would be designed to defend NATO member states against missiles from emerging threat nations like North Korea and Iran, and would not be directed at Russia. The alliance has vowed to continue developing and deploying its missile defenses, regardless of the status of missile defense cooperation with Russia.

In mid-March, the US announced it was modifying its planned missile defense deployment in Poland, dropping plans to station SM-3 IIB interceptor missiles in the country by 2022. Russian officials responded by saying that this did nothing to allay their concerns over US missile defense in Eastern Europe, and reiterated their demand for legally binding agreements guaranteeing that Russia’s strategic nuclear forces would not be targeted.