Russia-NATO Joint Missile Defense: Implementing the Decision

News | April 04, 2011

Leading officials of NATO, Russia and the United States spoke at an informal, off-the-record roundtable on joint ballistic missile defense at the EastWest Institute's Brussels office on Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

The main common conclusions were that the joint decision to set up cooperative missile defense was only very recent (November 2010) and that all parties were working seriously at an official level to understand the full implications.

EWI’s round-table highlighted challenges that are faced by all parties in executing the decision-in-principle.  This note is intended only as a brief public record of the event, not as a detailed record or assessment of views presented.
Participants included Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin, Special Envoy of the President for Interaction with NATO on missile defence and Head of Russian Mission to NATO; Robert Bell, Senior Civilian Representative of the Secretary of Defense in Europe and the Defense Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Roberto Zadra, Deputy Head of the NATO WMD Non-Proliferation Centre; prominent European experts on BMD such as professor Götz Neuneck, Deputy Director and Head of IFAR of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg; representatives of country missions to NATO, select NATO and EU officials, industry representatives and journalists.It also featured a group of eminent Russian experts and engineers on missile defence and arms control representing the Russian Committee of Scientists for Global Security and Arms Control composed of General (ret.) Sergey Kurushkin, Deputy Director General of GSKB ‘Almaz-Antey” and Director of the Scientific Research Institute of Radio Instruments (NIIRP) of Moscow; Vladimir Morozov, Chief Designer of MAK Vympel, Almaz-Antey Corporation; Dr. Boris Vinogradov, Deputy General Designer of Scientific Research Institute of Radio Instruments (NIIRP) and Professor of the Moscow Aviation Institute and Dr. Leonid Ryabikhin, Executive Secretary of the Committee of Scientist for Global Security and Arms Control.
Key Ideas or Reference Points
Only Russia and the United States have active missile defense capabilities and these are being upgraded in both countries. The two countries have held joint BMD exercises. NATO is extremely weak in this field and it has a lot to do to politically manage the implications of the decision. The balance between theater missile defense systems and defense against large scale strategic missile attack was still very much in favor of the former. The decision-making on the political and strategic side should more fullytake into account the limited capability of the two countries for missile defense, and the relatively low likelihood that deployed systems could degrade strategic nuclear deterrence. That said, there is clearly continuing disagreement on what is being proposed and how it should be executed, especially in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council, and how it might affect the parties' security interests.
Ambassador Rogozin admitted that the NATO-Russia negotiations on BMD have not made big progress and he welcomed EWI's effort to bring this matter into the open for public expert debate. Rogozin, who is also the Special Envoy of President Medvedev on MD, called for professionalization on BMD discussions and active involvement of experts, such as a group of scientists invited to Brussels by EWI who were involved in designing of Moscow ABM and Air Defense systems.
Dr. Neuneck supported Ambassador Rogozin’s call, emphasizing that NATO and Russian politicians should be fully enlightened on technical capabilities of BMD systems for better strategic decisions. He presented conclusions from a cooperative study by the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg and the IFSH (Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik) released at the end of last year. The German expert argued that it is the right moment for NATO and Russia to decide on the BMD architecture, as he considers NATO's TMD experience minimal, and joint BMD systems and architecture experience  non-existent.
Although Dr. Neuneck recognizes that the U.S BMD technological lead is uncontestable, with its Aegis sea-based system, he considers NATO capabilities to be too undefined for closing the debate on unresolved technical challenges. European experts found Russian concerns about NATO’s Phased Adaptive Approach plans, especially phase 3 and 4, to be  legitimate, as next generation interceptors could intercept ICBMs and thus pose a threat to China and Russia's strategic nuclear arsenals, as could a potential expansion of BMD infrastructure in non -NATO countries. Ambassador Rogozin also called on European Allies for an independent assessment of the disadvantages of the common missile defense shield with the U.S., warning that the European continent could become a repository for “nuclear garbage” if the allies follow lead of Washington.
Robert Bell, in an interview with the Voice of Russia before the seminar, called for an examination of lessons learned from the previous positive NATO-Russia cooperation on TMD, when good results were demonstrated on interoperability solutions and operating procedures. Applying these lessons to a new concept of cooperation on a wide area of territorial defense is now possible thanks to the progress of technology and capability of TMD to achieve a range of 3,000 kilometers.
There was some discussion of a proposal to create a shared data processing center or two to create a common radar-operating picture for each side to track a possible missile attack. Another function of this center, composed of NATO and Russia staff, could be to plan and coordinate possible joint actions against a common enemy.
NATO appears to favor the idea of having two independent ABM systems that would interacting through information exchange, while Russia appears to advocate the idea of integrating its BMD capabilities into a single system, while preserving a sectoral principle. This approach raises a concern among NATO allies about outsourcing its security to a non-NATO member.
Dmitry Rogozin and and Roberto ZadraIt was stressed that a window of opportunity for closer cooperation between Russia and NATO on non-strategic missile defense was opened at the Lisbon Summit. Furthermore, participants emphasized that an agreement needs to be reached prior to the 2012 American and Russian presidential elections  in order to seize this unique opportunity.
This seminar was the first in a series of EWI activities on BMD designed to boost new approaches to possible framework for NATO-Russia cooperation before the NRC Defense Ministers’ meeting in June 2011.