Senior Russian military official highlights positive cooperation with NATO

File Photo of Official at Podium in Front of Large NATO-Russia Council Signage

(Interfax – May 17, 2013) Russia and NATO are boosting their cooperation in a number of areas, however Russia still has concerns about US and NATO European missile defence plans, Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff Col-Gen Aleksandr Postnikov-Streltsov has said. Interfax news agency carried the comments that Postnikov-Streltsov made after a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) in Brussels at the level of general staff chiefs on 15 May.

One of the areas of positive NATO-Russia cooperation was the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

“The Russian side proposed holding an expert meeting to share our experience in organizing the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan,” Postnikov-Streltsov said. He added that NATO partners were “interested in many things, including what sort of political, diplomatic, economic and military steps we took when preparing for the withdrawal, during the withdrawal and also at the post-conflict stage”.

As regards the NATO expertise that Russia wanted to tap into, the general said: “We asked them to share the experience they have accumulated on the ways and means of their actions against the Taleban”. He also said that there was an interest in learning about how NATO structured its relationship with the regional and state leaders and the Afghan people at the post-conflict stage. “It would be good to learn their views and analyse their experience, to study it and if need be – use it,” he said.

He stressed that Russia was “carefully watching” the situation in Afghanistan given its impact on security in Central Asia. “We are interested in stability in Afghanistan,” he stressed.

He added that so far this cooperation was largely at a declaration of intent stage. “We proposed formulating all of these issues and discussing them more thoroughly and in more detail at the International Conference on European Security in Moscow on 23-24 May,” he added.

Among other cooperation prospects, Postnikov-Streltsov highlighted munitions disposal and joint anti-piracy work.

“We proposed more active participation in joint work on the disposal of outdated munitions, first of all in Russia’s Kaliningrad Region. We have already done the preliminary work on this,” he said, adding that methods and timing issues were currently being ironed out. “We see this as a positive result of our cooperation,” he said.

He also said that Russia was ready to step up its naval cooperation with NATO. “Responding to a request from our NATO partners to step up joint work as part of NATO’s Active Endeavour counter-terrorism operation in the Mediterranean Sea, we said that if this cooperation is based on the same principles as the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden, we would return a positive response,” he explained. “Particularly given that a rapid-response Russian naval detachment is being established in the Mediterranean pursuant to a decision of our country’s leadership and we will be able to cooperate in fighting pirates and also, if the need arises, terrorists. And if there are emergency crisis situations and in addressing more serious common high level tasks,” he said.

Nevertheless, there are some points of difference, such as the US and NATO European missile shield issue.

“In the course of the RNC session we expressed the Russian Defence Ministry’s position, the essence of which is that a final analysis of American initiatives has yet to be completed. At the same time, today we see no major shifts in previously announced US and NATO plans,” he said.

He elaborated: “We understand the reason for the adjustments proposed by the US side as regards the timeframes for the implementation of the fourth phase of its stage-based adaptive approach to the creation of a missile shield in Europe and believe that they are first of all linked to problems of an economic and technological nature. We are quite conscious of the fact that NATO missile difference elements in Europe will be deployed in previously defined timeframes, including in Romania and Poland.”

“I stress that Russian concerns as regards the negative influence of these plans on Russia’s national security still remain at this stage,” he said. At the same time, he promised that “in the course of our joint work with American partners we will study these initiatives in greater detail, with more depth”.

“Matters of a US global ABM are fully linked to the system of missile defence in Europe, we cannot look at them in isolation,” he concluded.

[image is file photo of different figure from past event]