NATO and Russia have failed to reach an agreement on missile defence after a meeting in Brussels. The two sides have agreed to keep on talking but the Russians have warned that time is running out.
They are unhappy about NATO plans to site parts of a missile defence system in European countries close to Russia, but the alliance’s Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, insists the project is purely defensive:
“NATO’s missile defence system is not directed against Russia. We do not consider Russia an enemy, we do not consider Russia an adversary, we consider Russia a partner, and we want to develop a true strategic partnership as we decided one year ago in Lisbon.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country wants joint control of how the system is used. He also wants guarantees from NATO that the project is not aimed at limiting Russia’s nuclear capability:
“We know that some elements of the anti-missile defence system that is to be deployed will cover a large part of the Russian territory and of course this raises some questions on our side. And on top of the words pronounced to reassure us, we want legal guarantees.”
Russia says it will deploy missiles in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad to counter the NATO system if an agreement cannot be reached.
Both sides have agreed to carry on talking and listening to each other’s concerns. The aim is to have an agreement in place in time for a NATO summit in Chicago next May.