The Kremlin’s deep concerns with Washington’s air defense plans have produced a strong impression on Europe. European countries are not willing to aggravate their relations in Moscow dancing to USA’s tune because most of Europe depends on fuel supplies from Russia. That is why US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is coming to Moscow. Ms. Rice intends to prove that the US air defense elements in Europe pose no threat to Russia whatsoever.
Condoleezza Rice is to visit Moscow on May 14-15. This will be her fifth visit to Russia. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recently visited Moscow with the same purpose. However, Ms. Rice has something to discuss with the Russian administration in the field of US-Russian relations. The agenda includes issues on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, air defense, the development of democracy in Russia, etc.
Russian politicians were filled with skepticism during recent talks with Robert Gates. Gates suggested Russia should join the USA as a partner in terms of the disputed defense efforts, conduct scientific cooperation in the field of air defense and exchange information on the matter.
In return, President Putin stated that Russia would declare a moratorium on the Conventional Arms in Europe Pact because Russia was the only country abiding by the obligations of the contract. As a result, several NATO members – Norway, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany – asked US officials to find a more careful approach to Russia.
Needless to say that the US administration will never decline a perspective to deploy air defense elements in Europe. As experience shows, US officials are used to neglecting opinions of other countries and organizations, including the UN Security Council (the wars in Yugoslavia and Iraq were launched without its approval). Nevertheless, Washington does not stay indifferent to Moscow’s stance on its air defense plans. It is not ruled out that Condoleezza Rice is coming to Moscow to resume the discussion in the spirit of the 1980s to sweeten the bitter taste left in Moscow after Robert Gates’ visit.
Richard Ebeling, a US scientist of politics, the President of the Foundation for Economic Education, said that the USA would offer Moscow a system of inspections of anti-missile complexes in NATO countries. If Moscow has any suspicion on the subject, the inspections will dissipate them, the specialist said.
The US administration may face severe problems as far as its air defense plans are concerned: Europe is worried about its energy security. The recent presidential election in France may change the situation since the French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy is a pro-US politician. The US may obtain a certain amount of support at this point. However, France imports almost a quarter of natural gas that it consumes from Russia. It brings up the idea that Sarkozy’s pro-Bush political stance may not be so important as opposed to economic interests of the French nation.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov