Wednesday

1st Dec 2021

Nato to reach out to Russia on missile defence

Instead of criticising a new security treaty between Europe and America, Russia should consider coming under the umbrella of a Nato missile defence shield, the alliance's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday (8 October). Nato leaders will decide in November whether they will share the costs of a US-deployed shield in Europe.

The long-debated shield, which has seen Moscow in the past threatening to deploy nuclear missiles at the Polish border in response, would cost €200 million over the coming 10 years for all 28 Nato members.

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  • The US wants European allies to share the costs of missile defence (Photo: US Missile Defense Agency)

"That is a lot of defence for a very good price," Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said during a speech at the German Marshall Fund in Brussels on Friday.

He insisted that the the threat of European countries being hit with a missile is "real". "There is technology available – tested and ready to go – that can defend against a missile attack."

Russia has so far been lukewarm about the new missile defence architecture put forward by US President Barack Obama last year, which focuses on seaborne capabilities in the Mediterranean and only at a later stage would have land-based missiles deployed in Romania and Poland.

Moscow's initial reaction to the missile defense plans developed by former president George W. Bush that would have had seen rapid deployment of missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic was much more aggressive as it was seen as a direct threat to Russia.

Mr Rasmussen said that if there is agreement at a Nato summit in Lisbon from 19-20 November to have a Nato missile defence shield, Russia would be invited to co-operate.

Co-operating with Russia would "make sense militarily", it would provide more security to more people and "also politically, it would make the point that it is not against Russia," he said.

"Russia has made the proposal of a new security treaty ranging from Vancouver to Vladivostok, but [joining a Nato missile shield] would be an actual security architecture that makes sense to the citizen. It does not give people security to sign a new treaty, but a missile shield would," Mr Rasmussen argued. He was referring to a proposal put forward by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 to replace Nato with a new pan-European security architecture ranging from Vancouver (Canada) to Vladivostok (Russia).

However, not all member states seem to be willing to pay for the bill and subscribe to a Nato missile shield.

"First, we'd like Nato to take a decision on missile defence. We are not there yet," a senior US official told EUobserver and other Brussels-based media on Friday.

"The new thinking [of President Obama] makes it possible for Russia to co-operate, and we had talks with Russian officials at all levels on ways in which they can be a partner," he confirmed.

The cost of the system still seems to be the main stumbling bloc, despite the US insisting that it will be the American taxpayer taking over the biggest burden, as the system itself will be paid by Washington.

"The €200 million are for the software required to plug in all the national systems and capabilities. The cost of defending Europe is much bigger, and the US is paying for that by providing the system," the source said.

An invitation to attend the Nato summit in Lisbon has been issued to the Russian president but has yet to find a reply.

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