Russia on Monday said it was open to reaching a compromise with NATO on its plans for European ballistic-missile defense, but warned the current negotiating posture of the alliance is “unacceptable,” ITAR-Tass reported.
“We’re ready for a constructive dialogue with the United States and NATO,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “We’re [open] for a compromise.”
Moscow objects to a current U.S.-NATO plan to deploy increasingly advanced sea- and land-based U.S. missile interceptors around Europe as a hedge against feared missile strikes from the Middle East. The Kremlin suspects the evolving missile shield would secretly be aimed at undermining Russia’s own long-range nuclear missiles, and has demanded proof from Washington that this would not be the case. The Obama administration in multiple rounds of talks with Moscow has offered political assurances on how the missile interceptors would be used but has refused to provide legally binding guarantees or to slow down the pace of interceptor deployment.
“Permanent talks saying nothing should be changed and this isn’t aimed against Russia are unacceptable for us,” Lavrov said.
Alliance member states and Russian officials discussed the missile shield at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels last week. No headway was made in resolving the antimissile impasse, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“Missile defense programs develop and our concerns are ignored,” he said. “We lack predictability in relation to American and NATO plans in missile defense.”
On Monday, U.S. Defense Undersecretary for Policy James Miller traveled to Deveselu, Romania to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the site of a future U.S. interceptor base that will form an important component of the NATO missile shield, the Voice of Russia reported.
The United States is on schedule to by 2015 deploy 24 Standard Missile 3 Block 1B interceptors and a radar installation in Romania as part of its broader “phased adaptive approach” for European missile defense. Before the interceptors can be fielded though, the Romanian air base at Deveselu must be modernized so it can handle the new technology.
The Block 1B interceptor is designed to defeat short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the midcourse phase of their flight.