Russia invites NATO’s Rasmussen to missile defense conference

Russia invites NATO’s Rasmussen to missile defense conference

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Russian Defense Ministry will invite NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday, March 28 to attend an international conference on missile defense in Moscow on May 3-4, a senior defense official said, according to RIA Novosti.

The Defense Ministry announced in the beginning of March that the goal of the conference is to give military experts from many countries and international organizations the opportunity to openly discuss a wide range of issues concerning the deployment of missile defense systems around the world.

“We would like to analyze the existing global missile threats and assess the technical characteristics of the future missile systems that may threaten Europe,” Sergei Koshelev, head of the ministry’s Main Department for International Military Cooperation, said on Wednesday.

Russia and NATO tentatively agreed to cooperate on the European missile defense network at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 but differences in approaches toward the project led to a deadlock in negotiations.

The Kremlin says the deployment of U.S. interceptor missiles and radars in Europe is a potential threat to the Russian nuclear arsenal, while Washington is trying to convince Moscow that the European missile shield poses no threat to Russia, as it is needed solely to protect against attack from "rogue states" such as Iran.

Russia is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the missile shield will not be directed against it. However, Washington has refused to provide those guarantees to Moscow and said it will not alter its missile defense plans despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.

“There is still time for a compromise on missile defense,” Koshelev said. “Our goal is to clearly explain our concerns using pure facts and figures and convince our partners that they should respect these concerns.”

Koshelev reiterated that Russian and NATO experts would continue dialogue on the issue, although chances for the exchange of classified data on missile defense remain slim as the U.S. Senate has specifically banned such an exchange.

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