Archive for the ‘Eastern Europe’ 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.

Bush Cautiously Optimistic On Missile Defense-Radio Interview

March 20, 2008

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- U.S. President George W. Bush is “cautiously optimistic,” but unsure if the U.S. and Russia can overcome differences over a planned missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.

President Bush waves onstage at the Pentagon, March 19, 2008. ...
President Bush waves onstage at the Pentagon, March 19, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

Designed to offset the potential threat of attack by Iran or another rogue nation, the proposed ballistic missile defense system includes the installation of 10 interceptors in silos in Poland and early warning radar in the Czech Republic. But the plan has drawn stiff opposition from the Kremlin, which worries the system could be a threat to Russia’s national security.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were in Moscow this week, but their meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended without a resolution on missile defense.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Bush said in an interview Wednesday with Radio Farda, a U.S.-funded Farsi-language broadcaster. “I don’t know whether we can find common ground. But we are trying to find common ground, and that’s what’s – that’s the first step, is to make the attempt.”

Bush said it would “make life easier” if the U.S. and Russia could iron our their differences. He repeated that the system, which still needs to be approved by Poland and the Czech Republic, would not be aimed at Russia.

Brute Force Cannot Subdue the Drive for Freedom

October 21, 2007


Sunday, October 21, 2007; Page B01
The Washington Post

Brute force can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom.

The thousands of people who marched in the cities of Eastern Europe in recent decades, the unwavering determination of the people in my homeland of Tibet and the recent demonstrations in Burma are powerful reminders of this truth. Freedom is the very source of creativity and human development. It is not enough, as communist systems assumed, to provide people with food, shelter and clothing. If we have these things but lack the precious air of liberty to sustain our deeper nature, we remain only half human.

In the past, oppressed peoples often resorted to violence in their struggle to be free. But visionaries such as Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have shown us that successful changes can be brought about nonviolently. I believe that, at the basic human level, most of us wish to be peaceful. Deep down, we desire constructive, fruitful growth and dislike destruction.

Many people today agree that we need to reduce violence in our society. If we are truly serious about this, we must deal with the roots of violence, particularly those that exist within each of us. We need to embrace “inner disarmament,” reducing our own emotions of suspicion, hatred and hostility toward our brothers and sisters.

Russia: Japan-U.S. Missile Defense “Of Concern”

October 13, 2007

TOKYO – (AP)  Russia is concerned that a joint U.S.-Japanese missile defense effort could be an effort to preserve military superiority, the country’s foreign minister said in a news interview published Saturday.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow regarded the joint missile defense efffort as an “object of concern,” expressing wariness over what he called the possibility that the system could be directed against Russia and China.

Japan Set to Test Sea-Based Missile Defense System

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