European Affairs

U.S. Warned Russia About European Missile Defense Plan     Print Email

Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Interview with German News Channel (N-TV) on May 25 (excerpts)

N-TV: Many German politicians including the General Foreign Minister Steinmeier criticized the U.S. about the defense missile system that’s being implemented in Poland and the Czech Republic. They said you should have talked earlier to the Russian side. What’s your response to it?

Assistant Secretary Fried: We did talk earlier to the Russian side. That’s just a fact. We’ve been talking to the Russians about this for 18 months. However, after the Russians escalated the politics of this we went to the Russians with a very far-reaching offer of missile defense cooperation.

Secretary Gates told the Russians, look, this is not directed against you, this is to deal with common problems. If you have common problems, let’s work together. He then flew to Berlin. Secretary Gates flew to Berlin, briefed Foreign Minister Steinmeier about our cooperation. The Foreign Minister welcomed this U.S. offer and the next day in Oslo at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, urged Lavrov at the NATO-Russia Council to accept it. I find this German position to be entirely logical.

We want to work with the Russians, not against them. Missile defense is not directed against them. It’s directed against a common problem. Didn’t ElBaradei (director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency) just say a couple of days ago that Iran could have nuclear weapons within a very short period of time? I think the phrase three to five years was used. Let’s concentrate on the real problem at hand and not a diversionary problem. But I think this is a very logical position for Germany. It’s for NATO cooperation on missile defense, cooperation with Russia on missile defense, and for transparency. Very logical.

N-TV: But you understand the concerns in Moscow. They don’t like so much to have the system being implemented in their neighborhood.

Assistant Secretary Fried: They know perfectly well that ten unarmed interceptors in Poland cannot pose any, I repeat, any threat to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. It can’t. Gates said to the Russians, if you’re concerned about the future, let’s sit down and discuss it. Let’s have transparency. Let’s have arrangements to address your concerns. That offer stands on the table.

If the Russians are concerned about military cooperation with Poland, the answer to them is, well, the Soviet Union is gone, the Warsaw Pact is gone, so let’s deal with real problems in a serious way.


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number 8, Issue number 2-3 in the Summer/Fall of 2007.

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