Russia-Nato Council: in the depth of uncertainty

Russia and the United States were about to sign a joint statement within the framework of the summit of the seven most industrialized countries and Russia in France.

The document was prepared by Russian foreign deputy minister Sergei Ryabkov and US vice secretary of State Ellen Tauscher; but at the last moment, US President Barack Obama, apparently under pressure from the CIA and the Pentagon, refused to sign it.

Moscow: Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) confirmed their differences regarding the European anti-missile defence system and the use of force against Libya at a recent meeting in Sochi.

Although there were some moves toward reconciliation, such as the statements by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who regarded the talks as promising, the specific outcome was negative.

Talks on the creation of a joint anti-missile defense system (AMD) in Europe bogged down, said Russian representative at NATO Dmitry Rogozin, after the meeting with his counterparts in the military bloc.

For Rogozin, Western partners refuse to listen to Russia’s opinion and act in accordance with a preconceived plan. The European anti-missile defense system is aimed at Russia’s strategic potential, said the official openly.

The meeting at the representative level in Sochi was attended by Medvedev and the Atlantic alliance’s secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who hardly acknowledged that both Moscow and Brussels are facing the same challenges and threats.

Russia’s proposal of signing a legal document to ensure that none of the parties will do anything against the other was rejected by Rasmussen, who said that the Foundational Act for Russian and NATO Cooperation of 1997 is enough.

According to the Kommersant daily, Russia and the United States were about to sign a joint statement within the framework of the summit of the seven most industrialized countries and Russia in France.

The document was prepared by Russian foreign deputy minister Sergei Ryabkov and US vice secretary of State Ellen Tauscher; but at the last moment, US President Barack Obama, apparently under pressure from the CIA and the Pentagon, refused to sign it.

The meeting in Sochi widened even more the gap of understanding between both parties, especially with regard to the idea launched last November by Medvedev at the Russia-NATO Council summit in Lisbon for creating a sectorial AMD.

The scheme consisted of dividing the European region into collective responsibility zones for protecting one another, but Rasmussen insisted on the need, and even said it would benefit NATO, for Russia to create its own anti-missile shield.

Both systems (separately) could collaborate in the future, exchange information and avoid attacks from the outside, affirmed NATO’s secretary general.

“We could not agree on the sectoral AMD for Europe”, admitted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Russian diplomat stressed that the fifth clause of the Washington Agreement prevents the 28 members of the Atlantic alliance from delegating their defence to non-member countries of the military block.

The local press commented before the beginning of the meeting in Sochi that Poland had insisted on the need of bring up the issue of the Washington Agreement, in the midst of its plans to keep not only Patriot missiles in its territory, but also to deploy F-16 fighter-bombers.

According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta (NZ) daily, Warsaw agreed with the Pentagon to transfer two US F-16 squadrons located at the Italian airbase at Aviano to a new installation in Polish territory.

We know that bi-lateral agreements are being established for deploying part of the US AMD in Europe and increasing the activity of warships that will be part of that system’s naval component, stated Lavrov.

The Russian foreign minister referred to the participation of the US ship Monterrey, provided with anti-missile systems, in joint maneuvers with Ukraine in the Black Sea, and its recent call on Georgian ports, something rejected by Moscow on all occasions.

The White House in no way takes into account the Kremlin’s concerns, said Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov last June after a meeting with his coleagues of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussel.

The United States is willing to deploy the SM-3s [Standard Missile-3s], which in their modified version has a greater reach, to all of the Russian European region and they can be installed on land, while the original version was for ships, NG affirmed.

The Atlantic Alliance’s secretary general seeks to postpone the solution to mutual differences until next year, at the summit of the Russian-NATO council in Chicago.

On the other hand, there were not many coincidences concerning the interpretation by both sides of the UN Security Council’s resolution 1973 on Libya.

Prior to the beginning of the council’s meeting, Medvedev talked to his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, who had recently undertaken a mission as a mediator for reconciling stands, and he had stressed the need of a peaceful way out of the conflict in Libya.

Rasmussen repeated the arguments used by NATO for explaining its bombings against Libya, started last March 19, based on the supposed mission of protecting civilians, among whom they have caused hundreds of deaths and wounded.

Lavrov warned that the Atlantic alliance interprets the so-called resolution as permission to do whatever they feel like with the announced objective of protecting civilians.

In fact, although that is forbidden on account of the UN Security Council’s resolution 1970, Rasmussen thinks that providing military supplies to the Libyan armed opposition is aimed at “protecting the population”.

Any kind of weapon supply to Libya is in violation of the Security Council’s resolutions 1970 and 1973, as is sending military instructors to that country, denounced Lavrov.

The friendly environment of Sochi, which for the first time is the venue for a meeting of the aforementioned council, was not reflected at all in the tone of the talks, which rather confirmed differences and created greater uncertainty in Russia-NATO relations.

Antonio Rondón

Prensa Latina

July 13, 2011

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