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Russian pundit casts doubt on NATO plans for ABM system

Missile Defense Control Room - .milMoscow, 19 November: NATO's plans for anti-ballistic missile defence systems (ABM) are not realistic, and Russia will hold talks with the USA on these issues, Sergey Karaganov, chairman of the presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, has said.

"The fact is that so-called NATO ABM systems or Europe's ABM systems are oxymorons. Only one country can manage an ABM system. There is one button," he told Interfax. "Europeans do not have the technology or money; they are cutting their military expenditure at an incredibly fast pace, and that is why they will not participate in the project," he added.

"That is why Russia can simply hold talks with the Americans on finding some kind of conception about cooperation in the ABM domain. The political dividends from this are obvious, and the expenses are small," he said. It remains unclear whether the USA can implement their project for a "large" dispersed ABM facility, which could in theory pose a threat to Russia's strategic interests. "This is a matter of decades. Taking into account the fact the USA will have to begin a large-scale reduction of its military expenditure, a small ABM facility theatre of military operations is probably at stake," he added.

However, even these facilities are unnecessary, he said. "Because, should Iran develop nuclear weapons and build missiles, these missiles will be highly vulnerable. That is certain. And it would be a thousand times cheaper to destroy them with a preventative strike, should that be needed, than create an expensive ABM facility," he added. That is why "in principle, these are most likely just virtual games on the subject of ABM systems," he said. "But why not play along? In principle, we have an interest in improving relations with Europe, the USA and NATO," he added. At the same time, the USA and NATO "are still largely interested in improving relations with Russia to boost their legitimacy during the conceptual crisis," Karaganov said.

Speaking of the forthcoming Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon (on 19-20 November), he said that one should not expect anything new from this meeting of heads of states. "I do not think NATO, which is currently experiencing the deepest of conceptual crises, will propose anything new in Lisbon. The only thing it can propose is some kind of new way of cooperating with Russia," he added. "In a strange kind of way, Russian president (Dmitriy Medvedev) is going to Lisbon in the capacity of donating political legitimacy to NATO," he said. "There would be nothing to discuss with NATO if our president was not going there," he added.

Karaganov did not rule out that Russia could also come up with a striking initiative at the summit. " For example, on cooperation in the ABM domain, which will probably not happen anyway, because this ABM system will not happen," he said in conclusion.

Keyword Tags:

Russia, NATO - Russia, Nuclear Issues, Missile Defense - U.S.-Russian Relations - Russia News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

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