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NATO, Russia, and START

November 23rd, 2010

Obama and Medvedev

Not only has NATO agreed to expand missile defense in Europe, the former Soviet Union has agreed to cooperate. Last Friday at the NATO summit, members approved the proposal to expand and link missile defense shield systems in the U.S. and Europe to protect against long-range missile attacks from rogue states like Iran.

NATO’s secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen sought to expand missile defense in Europe and made it clear that he wanted Russia’s cooperation in the effort. He got it, but at what cost? Although Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev agreed to cooperate, he said his country’s cooperation must be a “a full-fledged strategic partnership between Russia and NATO…Otherwise, it’s a no-go. Everybody’s clear that the missile defense system will be useful only when it is universal. I’ll be blunt with you, we need to sort it out.” (Source)

In other words, Russia’s cooperation is contingent on concessions NATO’s willing to make.

NATO also sought Turkey’s cooperation, but the country said it would not agree to the expansion if reference to Iran was explicit. To accommodate Turkey, Iran will not be named in the agreement.

During the summit, President Barack Obama took the opportunity to stress the importance of ratifying START, which calls for warhead and launcher reductions. No doubt ratification would please Russia, but Republican senators have   questions about START. In his weekly address, the president made reference to these senators.

“Over the last several months, several questions have been asked about New START, and we have answered every single one. Some have asked whether it will limit our missile defense – it will not. Some, including Senator Jon Kyl, have asked that we modernize our nuclear infrastructure for the 21st century – we are doing so, and plan to invest at least $85 billion in that effort over the next ten years – a significant increase from the Bush Administration.

“Finally, some make no argument against the Treaty – they just ask for more time. But remember this: it has already been 11 months since we’ve had inspectors in Russia, and every day that goes by without ratification is a day that we lose confidence in our understanding of Russia’s nuclear weapons. If the Senate doesn’t act this year – after six months, 18 hearings, and nearly a thousand questions answered – it would have to start over from scratch in January.”

The president adds that it would be a “dangerous gamble” to delay ratifying the treaty, but senators would be well advised to wait until the administration addresses their concerns.

The Heritage Foundation’s Michaela Bendikova and Conn Carroll also blogged about START this week.

Russia Willing to Listen to NATO

November 1st, 2010

Last month we blogged about the upcoming NATO summit and secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s goal to expand NATO’s threater missile system in Europe. Among other things, NATO seeks Russia’s cooperation in the expansion.

In the New York Times, Rasmussen wrote: “Missiles pose an increasing threat to our populations, territory and deployed forces. Over 30 countries have or are acquiring missiles that could be used to carry not just conventional warheads, but also weapons of mass destruction. Some of those missiles can already reach European cities, and the problem will only get worse.”

According to RIA Novosti, Russia seems amenable to at least considering NATO’s proposal. During talks with NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Admiral James G. Stavridis, Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov said, “On the majority of problematic issues we found a common approach – there are certain disagreements, but I think these…will be very attentively studied and we will certainly come to a general understanding and a common opinion.”

Rasmussen also seeks Turkey’s support in missile defense expansion. (Sources also reported that the U.S. would expand missile defense in Turkey.) According to the Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu (pictured) implied that his country wouldn’t oppose NATO’s plans.

“NATO can develop defense systems by taking into consideration security risks,” and his country’s opposition “is out of the question.” Rasmussen will meet with Russian officials ahead of the NATO member nations summit on November 19 and 20 is Portugal.

NATO’s Rasmussen on Missile Defense

October 12th, 2010

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of NATO, makes the case for strong missile in the New York Times. Among other things, Rasmussen seeks to expand NATO’s theater missile defense system. Next month, NATO member countries will vote on whether to expand it to cover NATO territory. Ahead of this meeting, Rasmussen takes to the New York Times to stress the importance of strong missile defense.

“Missiles pose an increasing threat to our populations, territory and deployed forces,” he writes. “Over 30 countries have or are acquiring missiles that could be used to carry not just conventional warheads, but also weapons of mass destruction. Some of those missiles can already reach European cities, and the problem will only get worse.”

Rasmussen acknowledges that missile defense doesn’t come cheap, but what we can’t afford is a direct attack on even one of our cities or to be paralyzed by fear of an attack.

“[NATO is] already working to provide missile defense for the protection of our troops deployed on operations. By expanding this program and connecting it with the United States’ missile defenses, NATO would be able to defend European populations and territory from missile attack as well.”
As expected, Russia believes expanding NATO missile defense and extending its reach threaten its national security. But NATO’s perception makes more sense.

“In military terms, an integrated missile defense system would offer far greater overall capability than that offered by the individual national systems. By sharing data across the whole system, we would have a common picture of what is happening in our airspace. By linking together the systems, we would get multiple, coordinated opportunities to stop an incoming missile, rather than individual nations going it alone.”

As Rasmussen says, cooperation between NATO and Russia would symbolize a “new era of cooperation” that would better protect NATO territories and populations from realistic threats from rogue countries like Iran and North Korea.

NATO on Expanding Missile Defense

June 8th, 2010

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it is “technically feasible” to expand NATO’s theater missile defense system, which would protect thousands of deployed troops. (Source)

“Even at a time when budgets are tight – especially at a time when budgets are tight – that is the kind of investment that makes sense,” Rasmussen said. Linking up the national systems would cost about $239 million over 10 years.

In February, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke at the NATO Strategic Concept Seminar at the Atlantic Council. He said Europe had underfunded defense budgets for NATO, and consequently, undermined joint security. Land invasion is no longer a pressing threat. The danger of missile attacks is more critical and “more likely to come from outside NATO’s traditional borders; and more likely to require new approaches that incorporate far more than just military power.” (Source)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke at the seminar about Russia and NATO working together. Russia believes expanding NATO and extending its reach threaten its national security. Relations between NATO and Russia soured after NATO criticized the former Soviet Union for invading Georgia. Despite this, NATO seeks to work with Russia on missile defense.