Concerns about U.S. missile defense plans for Europe are at the center of an international conference on European security that opened in Moscow Thursday morning. The conference, entitled "Military and Political Aspects of European Security," has brought together senior officials from Russia, Europe, the U.S., and Canada, and other experts, to discuss approaches to the new pan-European security architecture in an open dialogue with the European Union and NATO, reports RIA Novosti. "We certainly realize that the conference will not resolve the existing differences, but we need a calm and open dialogue on all issues pleasant and unpleasant," Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said ahead of the event.
One of the most significant of those differences is U.S. missile defense, as Russian officials made clear at the conference. Chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov warned that U.S. policy is standing in the way of further reductions in nuclear arms. "Russia will cut its strategic attack force only when it is certain that the United States' development of global missile defense will not undermine its nuclear deterrent potential," he said at the outset. He also said that Russia is developing a new capability to counter the U.S. BMD system. "We have devised a new system for counteracting the possible negative effect of the US's global shield that it may have on the Russian nuclear potential, — and we arent going to hush it up," Gerasimov said, though it's not reported whether or not he provided any details as to what this new system is.
Russia also took to task the West's "one sided" view of the matter of missile defense policy. Sergei Ivanov, former defense minister and currently head of the Russian presidential administration, told the conference that "Unfortunately, they are still guided by their one-sided steps policy and aren't in the least mindful of opinions and concerns that other countries have." Ivanov added that this behavior was eroding the principle of equal security and mutual trust. "We can't have this kind of approach," he said.
While the contents of President Putin's letter to Barak Obama, delivered this week by Russian security official Nikolai Patrushev, have not been revealed, the comments by Gerasimov and Sergei Ivanov indicate that what Obama offered to Putin in his own, April letter have not resolved Russian concerns over the global BMD system.