Archive for the ‘Donald Tusk’ Category

U.S., Russia Politely Dug In Over Missile Defense

March 23, 2008

By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 19, 2008; Page A12

MOSCOW, March 18 — The United States and Russia failed again Tuesday to bridge their differences over U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe to guard against potential attacks from Iran. But in two days of talks here, both sides adopted a strikingly moderate tone after a long period of rancor between the two countries.
The USS Lake Erie launches a Standard Missile-3 at a non-functioning ... 
The USS Lake Erie launches a Standard Missile-3 at a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific Ocean, February 20, 2008; photo released by the U.S. Defense Department. REUTERS/Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy.

The Americans “agreed that their project fuels our concerns and offered proposals aimed at lifting or easing these concerns,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Gates told reporters after the talks that his side would submit written proposals seeking to temper Russian fears about the missile system. Russian military inspectors would have access to sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the system would not be activated until there was demonstrable evidence that Iran had tested missiles capable of reaching the United States or its allies in Western Europe, U.S. officials said.

Russian officials have argued that placing a defense system on Russia’s borders is not necessary because Iran is many years away from developing such long-range missiles. They also say they fear that any radar system placed in Eastern Europe would be used to peer into Russian airspace and undermine the country’s strategic forces.

“We’ve leaned very far forward in this in an effort to provide reassurance,” Gates told reporters. He added, however, that the United States would not be dissuaded from going forward with the system.

Lavrov described the U.S. proposals as “important and useful for the minimization of our concerns.” But Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who also took part in the talks, cautioned that “the positions of our two sides have not changed.”

Gates said the Bush administration expects an answer “reasonably quickly” after it submits its written offer, but some news reports here suggested that Moscow might be playing for time, knowing that a new administration in Washington could take a different position on the necessity of missile defense.


The newspaper Vedomosti wrote Tuesday that “if the Democrats win the U.S. presidential election, they could review the missile defense program.”

It could also be that with the end of Russia’s election season and the recent victory of President Vladimir Putin‘s handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin sees no further domestic advantage in upbraiding the Bush administration and wants to reverse the deterioration in relations.

When Rice and Gates visited Moscow in October, they were subjected to some public finger-wagging by Putin as the cameras rolled. This time Putin did not even mention missile defense when he first met the two Monday at a short session in front of the news media.

“I would say they listened very carefully,” Gates told reporters Tuesday. “President Putin took extensive notes last night, and there was a lot done during the day today. That said, the full range of what we are now prepared to offer to discuss with the Russians is really just now after the day’s talks being put down on paper.”

In October, the Russians complained that U.S.-written proposals failed to live up to earlier oral offers from Rice and Gates. In particular, the Russians expressed concern about the adequacy of access to the sites slated for Eastern Europe.

The October statement may have stemmed from opposition in Poland and the Czech Republic to giving Russian military observers access to the facilities — and particularly to the idea that they might be permanently stationed there. Both countries have bitter memories of the Soviet troops who were posted within their borders during the Cold War.

Poland’s new prime minister, Donald Tusk, struck a conciliatory note Tuesday about the possibility of Russian inspectors.

“From our side there is a readiness to talk seriously about what this monitoring — that would give our neighbors a sense of security — could look like,” said Tusk, who said he had spoken both to Putin and President Bush about the possibility.

Rice and Gates, who also carried a letter from Bush to Putin, said the two countries had agreed to negotiate a “joint strategic framework document” that would build on existing cooperation in areas such as preventing the spreading of nuclear weapons and fighting terrorism.

Rice said the document could “lay the foundation for the future” after Bush and Putin leave office. But she provided few details.Medvedev, who also met with Rice and Gates, will succeed Putin in May, but he has said that Putin will become his prime minister, a power-sharing arrangement whose parameters remain unclear.

Russia Says It Will Be Allowed To Monitor U.S. Missile Defense Systems

March 20, 2008

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview published in the daily “Izvestia” on March 20 that the United States recently offered Russia “confidence-building measures” that will enable Russian monitors and monitoring equipment to determine that the proposed missile-defense system is not directed against Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, seen here in February ... 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
(AFP/File/Hrvoje Polan)
Lavrov added that “we have managed to make Americans acknowledge that our concerns are not unfounded…. In such [military systems], what matters is the potential and not just the intentions.” He did not say whether the proposal is enough to end Russian opposition to missile defense.
Under the U.S. proposals brought to Moscow by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates this week, Russia reportedly will be able to use monitoring equipment and occasional visits by monitoring officials at the proposed radar site in the Czech Republic and at the interceptor base in Poland.

Germany’s “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” reported on March 20 that Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek suggested recently that the U.S. proposal is acceptable to Prague because it does not involve a permanent Russian military presence on Czech territory.

The daily also cited remarks by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to the effect that the proposal is worthwhile if it makes Russia feel more secure. Critics charge that Moscow knows that missile defense is no threat, but uses the issue to bully its neighbors, try to split NATO, and obtain concessions from Washington on other issues.

Bush, Poland’s Tusk discuss missile shield plans

March 11, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush promised Monday to help Poland upgrade its military and vowed the US ally would not face “undue security risks” if it hosts components of a planned US missile shield.

Bush told visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk that US officials would draw up a plan to address Warsaw‘s defense needs before leaving office in January 2009, in the face of Russian anger at the proposed anti-missile system.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (C) and US President George ...
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (C) and US President George W. Bush (R) speak to the press during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Bush promised Monday to help Poland upgrade its military and vowed the US ally would not face “undue security risks” if it hosts components of a planned US missile shield.(AFP/Jim Watson)

“Before my watch is over we will have assessed those needs and come up with a modernization plan that’s concrete and tangible,” the president said as they met at the White House.

Bush said he was committed to “ensure that the people of Poland will not be subjected to any undue security risks, that the system is necessary to deal with the realities of the threats.”

Read the rest: