U.S. and Russia Remain Silent on ABM System « The Washington Independent
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev released numerous joint statements outlining the outcomes of today’s talks but fell conspicuously silent on the controversial anti-missile system proposed by the U.S. to be deployed in Europe, which Russia considers a threat to its security. Remarks concerning the proposed ABM system only came when the heads of state were prodded by reporters at their evening press conference, and even then, references to the issue were shadowy at best:
OBAMA: On missile defense, we have agreed that we are going to continue to discuss this critical issue. That is part of the joint statements that we’ve signed. I also believe that it is entirely legitimate for our discussions to talk not only about offensive weapon systems but also defensive weapon systems.
Obama went on to clarify that the missile defense system in question was “designed to deal with an entirely different threat unrelated to the kinds of robust capabilities that Russia possesses.” This falls in line with Obama’s intent to “reset” relations with Russia by acknowledging the country’s viewpoint on issues that the Bush administration failed to discuss with Russia.
Medvedev seemed optimistic, remarking that Obama’s willingness even to open up discussion on the issue was a change from the previous administration’s tendency to make decisions without consulting Russia. “Our understanding is that these decisions do concern us and we will have to come to terms on these positions,” he stated, emphasizing continued consideration of “what configuration on the whole the global anti-ballistic missile defense could have.”
Talk of a “global anti-ballistic missile defense” system is indicative of the increased cooperation between the countries seen in other aspects of today’s talks. These included an opening of supply routes to Afghanistan, a joint commitment to help the Afghan government fight drug trafficking, a pledge to reduce strategic arms past the levels outlined in the expiring START treaty, and an agreement to enhance the security of nuclear facility and materials.