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Russia: Moscow Outlines Its European Missile Defense Plan

Moscow, 20 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Russia today presented NATO with its plan for a European missile defense shield. Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev submitted the proposal to NATO Secretary-General George Robertson during their talks in Moscow today. The details were not revealed. Russia strongly opposes U.S. plans to build a national missile defense shield. Russia says the plan violates the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and could trigger an arms race.

Russia also is opposed to NATO's possible inclusion of more countries from the former Soviet bloc, particularly the Baltic states. Itar-Tass quotes Sergeyev as telling Robertson that NATO's expansion to East is "the most painful question for Russia."

Robertson first met with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, and he is scheduled to have talks with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, President Vladimir Putin and leaders of parliament.

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson is set on improving relations between Russia and the alliance and easing Russian fears over NATO's further eastward expansion.

Robertson said last night he wants to develop what he hopes will be a "crisis-resistant relationship" between the alliance and Moscow.

His talks with Russian officials will focus on NATO's prospects for further eastward expansion as well as Moscow's opposition to a U.S. plan for a national anti-missile defense system.

Robertson has expressed willingness to hear Putin's proposals on anti-missile defenses.

Robertson has said he would assure Russia it has nothing to fear from further NATO expansion.