Russian daily quotes WikiLeaks cables to reveal Washington's plan

The United States has been trying to rope in India for its plans to build a global missile defence system threatening Russia and China, the Komsomoloskaya Pravda, a popular Russian daily published from Moscow reported on Thursday.

In a story based on the WikiLeaks releases, the report said the U.S. has not only been planning to deploy a missile shield against Russia in Europe, but had also been negotiating with countries along Russia's borders, such as Japan and India, to jointly build missile defences that would also target Russia.

“The noose [around Russia] is tightening,” the newspaper said. “Thanks to WikiLeaks, it has become known that Washington has been simultaneously conducting talks with countries in other parts of the world for building U.S. missile defences on their territories. Those are different countries, but they form a chain around Russia.”

A 2007 confidential cable from the U.S. embassy in New Delhi carried by the daily refuted media reports that India had abruptly turned its back on a 2005 agreement with the U.S. to cooperate on missile defences. The cable said the Indian media had misinterpreted remarks by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee after the Russia-India-China trilateral meeting in Harbin, China, on October 24, 2007. Mr. Mukherjee had dismissed as “groundless” the idea that India was going to join a U.S.-led missile defence system.

Misconstrued

“MEA contacts confirm this did not mean India was not interested in continuing to cooperate with the U.S. on missile defence technology and that there has been no change from the current level of bilateral missile defence cooperation,” the U.S. embassy cable said.

The “MEA contacts” explained that Mr. Mukherjee's comments were “misconstrued” by the Indian press. When Mr. Mukherjee said that “India does not take part in such military arrangements,” the officials said, he had had in mind the U.S. plan to install a missile-detection system in Europe, which his Russian and Chinese counterparts referred to in the same press interaction.

“MEA Director Amandeep Singh Gill [Disarmament and International Security] confirmed to PolOff on October 26 that Mr. Mukherjee's comment in Harbin cannot be interpreted as a deviation from the status quo of current U.S.-India Military Defence cooperation,” the cable said.

The embassy recalled: “Then-Defence Minister Mukherjee and SecDef [U.S. Secretary of Defence] Rumsfeld agreed to expand collaboration relating to missile defence in the July 2005 U.S.-India Defence Framework Agreement.”

Indo-U.S. collaboration on missile defence “has thus far been confined to technical and fact-finding discussions,” the cable said, noting that “the GOI has focused its attention increasingly on developing indigenous MD system capabilities.”

Ring of systems

The Russian newspaper said the U.S. had “cast a fishing net over India” to get it to join the U.S. plans for building a ring of missile defence systems encircling Russia.

Eyeing resources?

Washington's “plans to deploy missile defences along Russian borders — first in Europe, then in other places — may result in a situation where they will twist our hands to make us share our natural riches,” the daily said.