A senior NATO official has ruled out a joint NATO-Russia anti-missile shield in Europe and suggested instead that the sides share information on missile threats.
NATO cannot outsource its collective defence obligations to outside nations and therefore cannot accept the Russian proposal for a joint anti-missile system, James Appathurai, Special Representative of the NATO Secretary-General to the Caucasus and Central Asia, told a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday. He is leading a NATO goodwill delegation to Russia.
Mr. Appathurai reiterated NATO assurances that the proposed anti-missile system was not directed against Russia. He said the best no-threat guarantee would be for Russia to cooperate with NATO in the framework of the system the alliance is building.
Moscow has firmly rejected the NATO invitation. “We are being invited to monitor the realisation of a plan that we see as creating a risk to our forces of deterrence,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters when asked about the proposal.
“I rule out any possibility of joint activities till we get legally binding guarantees that the [anti-missile] system is not targeted against Russia,” Mr. Lavrov said.
The United States last week offered to give Russia “written assurances” that the system was not directed against Russia, but refused to provide legally binding commitments.
Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin scornfully dismissed Mr. Appathurai’s protestations as propaganda.
“There is no transparency in what NATO is doing about missile defences,” Mr. Rogozin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “NATO is building a system of missile interception that is closed off to Russia and is being deployed, not near potential missile threat zones, but in northern Europe, close to Russia’s missile bases.”