NATO Russia Joint Missile Defense Center
The 29 nations of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) restated their commitment to pursuing cooperation on missile defence as well as cooperation in other security areas of common interest, when they met in Sochi, Russia, on 4th July 2011, at the invitation of the Russian authorities.
As part of the intensifying political dialogue between NATO and Russia, the ambassadors of the 29 NRC member states held informal sessions chaired by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, with the participation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.
“We restated our commitment to pursue missile defence cooperation in the NATO-Russia Council,” Secretary General Rasmussen said after the meeting. “Because it is so important, and because we all stand to gain by working together, we are determined to keep up the dialogue and to keep up the work.” And, in his monthly press briefing in Brussels, told reporters that “one of the elements in missile defense cooperation could be to establish a center or a couple of joint centers that would serve as a framework for the exchange of data.”
Joint threat assessments and joint exercises could be other elements of NATO-Russia cooperation, he added.
“If we agree to joint centers, they would be jointly staffed,” he added. “Such practical cooperation would be the best reassurance that neither of the systems [Russia’s or NATO’s] are directed at the other party in that cooperation.”
He said he was keeping the option open for a NATO-Russia summit at the same time as NATO’s next summit in Chicago next spring.
NATO plans to start deploying its missile defense system in the spring of 2012, but according to the Financial Times, Russian officials say it could trigger a new arms race and provoke them to put missiles near NATO’s borders in western Russia.