Hillary Clinton invites Moscow to collaborate with the anti-missile shield. Experts are skeptical.
Let me say this explicitly: Russia is facing different threats, but NATO is not one of them — the U.S. Secretary of State made this clear during her speech at a seminar on NATO in the 21st century. Clinton emphasized that the U.S. wants Russian-NATO collaboration that will bring specific results and bring NATO and Russia closer together. Her speech is the latest attempt in the last months to dissipate Russian politicians’ and generals’ fears. In spite of the “resetting of the Russian-American relations” announced by President Barack Obama, the Kremlin is still protesting against the declarations concerning possible extension of the alliance with Ukraine and Georgia. Still, with considerable mistrust, it is accepting the plans to build the American anti-missile shield on the region of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. So Hillary Clinton repeated the invitation for Russia to participate in the development of the system that may defend both Europeans and Russians against missiles.
We have been hearing declarations about a similar kind of collaboration in the field of anti-missile defense since the '90s. However, such ideas have never gone beyond diplomatic conversations. “And I don’t see any possibilities that they could, in fact, be put to practice,” says Pavel Felgengauer, a Russian commentator on security issues, in a conversation with Rzeczpospolita.
In order for an anti-missile shield to make sense, a decision to fire anti-missile defenses must be taken immediately. Felgengauer emphasized in his interview that there is no time then for American-Russian consultations. In such an event, Russia isn’t prepared to allow the U.S. to make the decision alone. He adds that when the Americans speak about collaboration with Russia concerning the shield, their real intention is to simply make Moscow stop protesting against its construction.
An agreement concerning the construction of an anti-missile defense system will not be easy to achieve, especially after the adoption of a new defense strategy by Russia, which still perceives the expansion of NATO and construction of the shield as potential threats. Stephen Larrabee, an expert for the Washington-based RAND Corporation notes that, although difficult, it is worth trying for an agreement.
The U.S. Secretary of State also mentioned that European security serves to prosper with a greater frankness of NATO and Russia concerning armaments, military installations and drills, emphasizing the importance of reciprocal observation of maneuvers and mutual visits to new or modernized military bases. The chief of U.S. diplomacy rejected, at the same time, the Kremlin’s appeals to create a new system of European security from scratch, although she didn’t exclude that Russia could become a member of NATO. She thought it was a possibility, but was unsure as to whether the Russians would go for it.
The last time the North-Atlantic Alliance revised its strategic concept was in 1999. The 12-person Wise Men Group is working on a new one. One of the members is the Polish former Chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Adam Rotfeld. The alliance is set to accept a new document in November at the NATO summit in Lisbon.
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