Moscow insists on legal guarantees that European missile shield not targeted against it

Russia and NATO are continuing a dialogue on a European missile defense system both through the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry and within the NATO-Russia Council, Russia's acting envoy to NATO Nikolai Korchunov said.

"Unfortunately, our partners, declaring their commitment to a compromise in words, are not prepared to take into account Russian concerns in deeds. What is fundamentally important to us is reliable legal guarantees based on clear military-technical criteria that the missile defense system being deployed will not be targeted against the Russian nuclear deterrence forces," the diplomat said.

"The matter implies guarantees that this system will be fully consistent with its declared purpose, namely the countering of missile threats that could emanate from outside Europe," Korchunov said.

The assurances regarding NATO's missile shield contained in the declaration of the alliance's summit in Chicago "can be viewed as a step in the right direction, although these purely political statements cannot create a foundation for cooperation," he said.

"The simple phrase that the missile defense system is not targeted against Russia is not enough. It must be upheld by explanations as to why it is so, what parameters of this system need to be taken into consideration, and how Russia, regardless of what it hears, could judge by itself that these parameters are being observed," he said.

The situation can be changed radically if the partners accept Russia's proposal "so that Russia, the U.S. and Europe be equal members of a missile defense system," Korchunov said.

"That is, we should jointly create it, have the opportunity to jointly assess threats, and could jointly manage this system and make decisions on its employment," he said.

"This would radically change the situation in the security field in the world. Russian and NATO experts could see during computerized command-post theater missile defense exercises in Germany in March that a common and collective system is more efficient in countering missile threats. If we follow this way, we will have a unique chance to turn a fundamentally new page in relations with the U.S. and NATO and implement the principle of indivisibility of security in practice rather than just in words," he said.

"We are prepared to continue the dialogue and look for solutions on this very basis," Korchunov said.

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