Valdai Club experts discussed outlook for European missile defense
Russian and foreign experts discussed the outlook for the scientific and technological cooperation between Russia and NATO in the field of European missile defense system and the level of threat that such a system may pose to Russia. Other issues included potential changes in U.S. and Russian approaches to building such a system. These round-table discussions were held at RIA Novosti press center on March 26 with the support of the Valdai International Discussion Club.
The participants in the round-table discussions on the European missile defense system and Russia’s symmetrical response included Dmitry Danilov, Head of the Department for European Security at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe; Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems; Viktor Litovkin, Executive Editor of Independent Military Review; Sergei Oznobishchev, Department Head of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences and a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO); Robert Pszczel, Head of the NATO Information Office in Moscow; Alexander Rahr, Director of the Berthold Beitz Center for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Central Asia at the German Council on Foreign Relations; Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director for Research at the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy; and Vladimir Yevseyev, Director of the Center for Social and Political Research. Pavel Andreev, Executive Director of the Valdai Club Foundation, moderated the round-table discussions.
The experts focused on Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to forgo the Russia-NATO summit in Chicago. Some participants noted that this decision by the prime minister caused concern in the West. However, it is understood that Russia cannot make any important decisions without knowing the results of the upcoming presidential election in the United States.
The experts agreed that Russia and NATO have different opinions about the practicability of building a European missile defense system. The inability of the United States and Russia to reach an agreement in this area is a sign of a major lack of trust in bilateral relations and a Cold War mentality, experts believe.
Most of the experts believe that the Iranian threat invoked by Western leaders is overstated. The main goal of the missile defense system, say the experts, is to preserve the military and political relationship between the U.S. and Europe that both sides equally need. Although the defense system will not present any major threat to Russia in the near future, it will nevertheless drastically change the nuclear equation between the U.S. and Russia, which will later alter U.S. and NATO policy in Europe.
The experts agreed that an equitable technological partnership between Russia and NATO in the European missile defense system is currently impossible. The round table participants concluded that Russia needs to build its own missile defense system. Russia will be able to establish an equal dialogue with NATO and oppose potential threats only if it pursues its re-armament program through 2020 without getting drawn into an arms race, and builds up its economy.