Flying Crocodiles: The Latest Russian Position On Missile Defense Cooperation with NATO

Medvedev, Rasmussen, and Rogozin

From Barry Pavel, the New AtlanticistThe Russian government is working hard to evolve their latest position opposing cooperation with NATO on a range of potential missile defense projects.  The latest from Dimitry Rogozin, Russian Ambassador to NATO and Special Envoy of President Medvedev on Missile Defense Cooperation with NATO, is that “crocodiles will fly” before any Middle Eastern nation will ever have the ability to develop and field long-range ballistic missiles, obviating the need for any NATO missile shield.  He said this, despite ample evidence as recently as last week, that Iran is making enormous progress towards that very goal, aided in part by North Korea. . . .

So, on the very day after Iran reportedly tested 14 missiles of various ranges, including the Shahab-3 and Sejil-2 medium-range missiles that could potentially reach Europe, Israel, and U.S. military forces, in a major exercise dubbed “Great Prophet-6,” Rogozin claimed that there is no reason to deploy missile defenses against Iran. . . .

The real reason Russia does not want to cooperate with NATO on missile defense projects that would be in both countries’ interests is that there remain influential officials in the Russian government who do not trust the United States and would never agree to cooperate with NATO on missile defense, no matter how limited the system’s capabilities would be.  Russian President Dmitri Medvedev could do a world of good if he could rein in (or better yet, kick out) such officials, thereby removing the roadblocks that hinder Russian cooperation with NATO and the United States.  These officials are Medvedev’s own crocodiles, nipping at his heels and blocking the path to closer cooperation with the West.  Medvedev should indeed make these crocodiles fly by throwing them out. 

Barry Pavel is director of the International Security Program and director-designate and Arnold Kanter Chair of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.  (Photo: Reuters)

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