Valdai Club 6: Missile Defense

The conference took place at the same time as the G8 summit in Deauxville, which included a statement on possibilities for missile defense cooperation between Russia and the US/Europe. The discussions on this topic at Valdai, however, left me very much pessimistic about the likelihood for such cooperation. There were two events directly related to missile defense. The first was a panel discussion on May 26th, with presentations by Oksana Antonenko of IISS, Mesut Hakki Casin of Yeditepe University in Istanbul, and Aleksandr Stukalin of Kommersant-Daily, followed by a discussion. The second was a meeting that same evening with a senior MOD official who has some responsibility for missile defense. As you will see from the report, the tone of these two meetings could not have been more different. (Note: I don’t have detailed notes on the presentation by Casin — it focused on how important missile defense cooperation would be for international security)

Panel on building a European missile defense system

Oksana Antonenko — Prospects for NATO-Russia missile defense cooperation

Antonenko provided a very optimistic assessment of the possibilities for including meaningful Russian participation in a European missile defense system. She began by reviewing the history of international cooperation on missile defense, noting several promising initiatives dating back to the Clinton presidency have been signed but never fully implemented, including the RAMOS program and the JDEC program to exchange early warning data on launches. Theater missile defense cooperation within the NATO-Russia Council was thus the 3rd stage of cooperation. This allowed for significant progress, including joint exercises. A live fire exercise that was to be held in 2008 in Germany would have brought cooperation to a new level, but it was canceled because of the Georgia war and the entire program was suspended. As a result, many of the experienced people involved in that cooperation left. Continue reading