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Special Envoy Ellen Tauscher

“Strategic Stability in the Euro-Atlantic Region”

Speech to the Wroclaw Global Forum 2012:

Reinventing the West: Prosperity, Security and Democracy at Risk?
Friday, June 1, 2012, Wroclaw, Poland

Thank you for that introduction, Fred.  

I am honored to speak at this very important conference. It is a great privilege for me to be back in Poland today to participate in this Forum. This is my 4th trip to Poland as a State Department official, and, of course, I also visited as a Member of Congress.

Let me start by thanking Mayor Dutkiewicz for hosting this event in this historic city/ and for such a fabulous reception last night. 

I also want to express my thanks to Foreign Minister Sikorski, who will speak in just a couple of minutes, and with whom I have worked very closely over the past several years. I deeply appreciate his strong leadership, and the support of the Polish Government, in our work together to deploy elements of the European Phased Adaptive Approach.

Poland was the first Ally to agree to host an EPAA site and the first Government to ratify and bring into force a missile defense basing agreement.

Let me also mention my tremendous appreciation to the co-Chairs of the Atlantic Council’s Awards Dinner tonight: Poland’s wonderful Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Robert Kupiecki and our excellent Ambassador to Poland, Ambassador Lee Feinstein.  

I am tremendously proud of the partnership we have forged with Poland during the past several years. Together we are working on some of the toughest problems facing Europe today. Nowhere is this demonstrated more than in our partnership in NATO, where Poland is leading the way and actually increasing its defense spending as a percentage of its GDP.

NATO continues to be the bedrock of our common security, our freedom, and our prosperity.  And although the times and foes may have changed, the fundamental reason for our alliance has not.  Our nations are stronger and more prosperous when we stand together.

Obviously, there is considerable anxiety about the economic future of Europe. The theme of this conference is a clear indication of that anxiety with its core question: Is prosperity, security and democracy at risk in Europe?

The United States remains committed to European security and we will continue to promote regional security and Euro-Atlantic integration. 

The United States has enduring interests in supporting peace and prosperity in Europe as well as bolstering the strength and vitality of NATO—because NATO is critical to the security of Europe and beyond. Even as we re-balance our force structure in Europe to better address 21st century threats, Europe will remain our partner of choice as we address global challenges. 

And we remain as committed as ever to our Article 5 commitments to Allied security. While the political, economic and security landscape is changing, we can embrace some of the changes. The United States and NATO, just to take one example, no longer see Russia as an adversary. 

Instead NATO is rightly focusing on 21st century threats and developing the capabilities to address those threats.

This is the heart of the matter that I want to speak about today. To address the threats that exist today, the Obama Administration remains committed to deploying all four phases of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, which as everyone here knows, is our voluntary national contribution to a NATO missile defense capability. 

Just 18 months after NATO decided to proceed with a missile defense capability, NATO has its first missile defense radar, its first interceptors, a single commander, and a command and control system. 


We look forward to working with our NATO Allies over the coming years to expand NATO’s missile defense capabilities and the voluntary national contributions of all allies. 

As we address the new threats of the 21st century, we must continue to move past 20th century, Cold War thinking. We must move away from the competition between the East and West blocs, and Mutually Assured Destruction, to a new concept that I like to call, “Mutually Assured Stability.” 

We can no longer afford the competitions that dominated the history of the 20th century.  Instead, we need to focus on new approaches and new areas of cooperation.  This cooperation can greatly enhance the collective national security of all our countries.

Just before your lunch break there was a session about Russia in the Post-Medvedev Era. There has been much anxiety in Europe about Russia and its path forward.  Engagement with Russia remains important for all of Europe, and we must continue to work together to build a close working relationship. 

As it is the United States and Europe are successfully working with Russia on a broad range of issues, including efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and reduce global nuclear stockpiles—that includes implementing the New START Treaty. 

The success of the New START Treaty is a bright spot in our relationship with Russia. When the Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age. Just as importantly, the Treaty revives a verification regime, including on-site inspections, with Russia to help reduce mistrust and misunderstandings.

We are working together to move materials to and from Afghanistan. We are working together on counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations.  And, we have worked hard to secure Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization, which we expect to happen this summer after more than 18 years of work.

Over the next few months and years, we must transform that cooperation into a lasting strategic partnership that provides stability to the entire Euro-Atlantic area. This is where moving to Mutually Assured Stability comes into play. 

The idea behind Mutually Assured Stability is that the relationship between the United States and Russia will be based on cooperation, and neither side could seriously consider the possibility of initiating a conflict with the other. Nor would either side perceive the other as posing a threat to core security interests.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov and I—as part of the Arms Control and International Security Working Group under the Bilateral Presidential Commission—have begun discussing strategic stability and the elements that affect it.

An important aspect of these discussions will be addressing the disparity between the non-strategic nuclear weapons stockpiles of Russia and the United States, and to secure and reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner. 

In NATO’s Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, Allies committed to continuing to develop and exchange transparency and confidence-building ideas with Russia with the goal of developing proposals on and increasing mutual understanding of NATO and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe.

The United States also will continue to work with Russia to promote strategic stability, enhance transparency, and further reduce both countries’ nuclear weapons.

And as always, throughout all of this, the United States will closely consult with our NATO Allies. At the same time, many are concerned that missile defense in Europe could become a source of competition with Russia.

I don’t believe that at all.

We cannot afford that type of competition anymore. Instead, missile defense cooperation could be a game changer for good. Missile defense cooperation can achieve two very important objectives. First, it would allow Russia to see with its own eyes and hear with its own ears what we are doing and it will give us time to demonstrate how our systems operate. It will allow Russia to see that the European Phased Adaptive Approach is not directed against Russia, but limited regional threats from outside of Europe…not Russia.

Second, it could give the United States, NATO, and Russia the opportunity to forge a true strategic partnership that enhances security for all. I realize it takes time to build confidence.  But, we have that time.

There are six years before we deploy Phase 3 in the 2018 timeframe. We should use that time positively on cooperation and not competition.

Russia should come inside the missile defense cooperation tent and see what we are doing. During that time, we will be testing an Aegis BMD site in Hawaii. We will be developing and testing the SM-3 Block IIA interceptors.  We will also be working with our Allies to ensure how to best protect NATO populations and territory.

At the same time, the U.S., NATO and Russia can work together on a broad range of cooperation: Sharing sensor data, working on developing common pre-planned responses, conducting a joint analysis of missile defense systems, and working together on missile defense exercises.

The United States and NATO have been transparent about our missile defense programs.  We have provided Russia with a number of ideas and approaches for transparency. We are also committed to discussing other approaches to building confidence between our two countries.

At Chicago, NATO Allies made a very clear statement of our intent. The Summit statement says quote "NATO missile defense is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities.”

And, as I have told my Russian colleagues, if Russia doesn’t like what it has learned during this period of cooperation, then it can terminate that cooperation whenever it wants.

But let me be clear.  While we can work cooperatively together, we cannot agree to the pre-conditions outlined by the Russian Government.

We are committed to deploying effective missile defenses to protect the U.S. homeland, our deployed forces, and our Allies and partners around the world from ballistic missile attacks. We understand that there are risks involved, and it takes courage to move away from familiar ways.  We believe those risks are manageable.

In a little over two weeks, President Putin and President Obama will meet in Mexico. This is an important opportunity for the leaders of our two countries to chart the path forward on missile defense cooperation.

I continue to hope that my Russian colleagues see missile defense cooperation as an opportunity that they should take sooner rather than later. I hope that they recognize we have no capability or intent to undermine strategic stability.

Our objective is to reach agreement on cooperation which is a much better approach than sticking to the previous patterns of competition. So we will keep working to see if we can come up with a plan for cooperation. We will continue to press in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Joint Staff channels.  We will keep moving forward in the run up to the June meeting of our two Presidents, and we will keep going long after that.

And I hope that someday soon, we can begin this important cooperation. Let me once again thank Fred for inviting me to speak here today and also put in a plug for his book.  

I have mentioned this before, but for those of you who don’t know, Fred published a book late last year entitled Berlin 1961. It is an excellent reminder of an era of tension in Europe that we do not want to replicate, which is why the United States and NATO seek cooperation rather than competition with Russia. We do not want to return to the divisive policies and military competition of the past.  Cooperation is in all our interests.

Thanks to all of you for your time and for participating in this important conference.  I am happy to answer a few questions.