MOSCOW – Russia wants the United States to provide Moscow with guarantees that a prospective U.S.-led missile shield wouldn't threaten its security, a senior Russia official said Monday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that Washington's refusal to provide such guarantees could derail efforts by Russia and NATO to cooperate on missile defense.
"We can't base our security on assurances and promises, we need a legally-binding agreement," Ryabkov told lawmakers during parliamentary hearings.
He said that Moscow was disappointed by a negative U.S. reaction to its demand.
Russia considers the U.S.-led missile defense plans as a potential threat to its security. It has agreed to consider NATO's proposal last fall to cooperate on the missile shield, but insisted that the system should be run jointly. NATO has rejected that demand.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned that a failure to reach a deal on the issue could force Russia to deploy new offensive weapons, triggering a new arms race.
A landmark arms control treaty called New START has helped improve relations between Moscow and Washington, but Russia has continued to view U.S. missile defense plans with suspicion.
Ryabkov said Monday that the existing U.S. missile defense elements don not pose a threat to Russia, but the situation may chance in the future. "The current configuration doesn't undermine our strategic security, but we lack guarantees that it will remain the same in the future," he said.
Ryabkov warned that the development of U.S. missile defense could undermine the New START.
While the New START doesn't prevent the U.S. from building new missile defense systems, Russia has stated that it could withdraw from the treaty if it feels threatened by such a system in future.
The Kremlin's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, told lawmakers Monday that NATO had rejected Moscow's push for a missile shield that would be operated jointly.
"They told us that NATO doesn't outsource its security to non-members," Rogozin said. "But why then their system's range reaches all the way to the Urals? We haven't asked anyone to protect our territory."