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US should have consulted Russia on defense in Europe - opinion

RIA Novosti

19/03/2007 16:01 MOSCOW, March 19 (RIA Novosti) - The United States should have consulted Russia on its plans to deploy missile defense elements in the Czech Republic and Poland, a political scientist said Monday.

The United States plans to deploy a radar installation in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland by 2011-2012, saying the shield is needed to counter possible attacks from Iran. But Russia objects to the plans, treating them as a security threat.

"My personal opinion is that consultations should have been conducted with Russia, and, first of all, within NATO itself. This did not happen. The German side also felt it had not been well informed on the issue," Alexander Rahr, the director of the Russia/CIS program and a member of Germany's Council of Foreign Relations, said.

The political scientist said the missile defense deployment could "split Europe."

Speaking about the role Commonwealth of Independent States members play in this issue, in particular, Ukraine, Rahr said the country could become a bridge between Russia and the West, whose cooperation on missile defense deployment in eastern Europe could provide positive results.

He said President Vladimir Putin's Munich speech could make Russia and Europe return to the issue of joint protection from countries capable of developing nuclear weapons.

In his address to a Munich security conference February 10, the Russian president said that the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in central Europe could trigger a new arms race, and accused the U.S. of ignoring international law and imposing its own rules on other countries.

The head of the Russian Foreign and Defense Policy, Sergei Karaganov, said Washington's plans to deploy missile defense in eastern Europe is a provocation aimed at splitting Russia and Europe.

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