US Secretary of State Condoleezza rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrive in Moscow on Monday, March 17 to conduct negotiations with Russian Foreign Affairs minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The talks will be devoted to the missile defense issue. The US administration hopes to find a compromise on the matter in spite of the fact that Russia does not show even a token of such intention.
Gates told reporters on his way to Moscow that the USA was not going to put forward any new suggestions to Moscow. Gate and Rice hope to hear Russia’s response to their previous suggestions on missile defense cooperation.
“My view is we’ve put a lot on the table in recent negotiations. Now it’s time for them to reciprocate,” Gates said.
Pentagon’s chief said he was not very optimistic about any changes on missile defense.
"We think there is the potential for some progress and we'll just see," he said. "I wouldn't get too enthusiastic at this point."
"At some point the Russians are going to have to decide whether they want to be true partners — which we're offering — or whether this is all just a sham game on their part to (stop) the whole deal," he added.
Robert Gates also said that he was not going to sing any agreements during his and Mrs.Rice’s visit to Moscow. Gates and Rice will visit Russia’s capital to prepare the ground for a possible agreement.
A US delegation made a number of suggestions during their official visit to Moscow in October of 2007. The suggestions stipulated the presence of Russian officers on objects of the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as other measures aimed to ease Russia’s concerns over US plans.
The Russian administration is disappointed with the absence of new suggestions on the part of the USA. Russian officials say that everything that their US counterparts suggested regarding the solution of the missile defense problem could be categorized as measures of transparency and trust. “It at least allows us to see that the things which the USA is doing single-handedly and contrary to our will does not carry a direct threat against Russia at this particular moment. The US administration is aware of the fact that we have not taken our claims out from nothing. They know that they are based on real estimates,” a Russian official said.
A source from the Defense Ministry of Russia told Itar-Tass news agency that any breakthrough changes on key problems of strategic stability could be possible only if US officials brought new suggestions to Moscow. “Otherwise, it will all come down to each side reiterating their positions,” the official said.
Many experts and scientists of politics say that they treat perspectives of the US-Russian meeting on missile defense with skepticism.
The Bush administration is negotiating with Poland to establish a base there for 10 missile interceptors. They would be linked to a radar site in the Czech Republic, if the Czech government agrees. The system would be part of a wider network of interceptors, radars and communications sites in the United States and elsewhere for defending the United States and its allies against long-range missiles.
In their meetings in Moscow last October, Gates and Rice said the Bush administration would consider delaying activation of the proposed sites in Poland the Czech Republic until hard evidence is in hand regarding Iran's development of a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe and beyond. The Russians have not accepted that proposal.