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Russia made no missile defence offer to NATO: Ambassador

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BRUSSELS (AFP): Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made no firm proposal to NATO about uniting their missile defence systems, a Russian ambassador has said after a report that the suggestion was rebuffed.

"I was present in the room ... Our president made no concrete proposal," Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said in reaction to a report about the alliance's meeting with the Russian leader at the Lisbon summit last week.

"He simply expressed the principles of cooperation that we support, such as equality between Russia and its NATO partners and that the future antimissile system does not constitute a risk for our nuclear deterrent arsenal," he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Medvedev had proposed that Russia take responsibility for shooting down missiles fired towards Europe and which fly over its zone of responsibility.

In terms of his "sectoral missile defence" proposal, the 28 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries would do the same for missiles fired towards Russia, the US paper reported citing sources at the meeting.

However this would mean the NATO system's sensors would not be pointed toward Russia, the paper said, adding the alliance leaders had diplomatically rejected the proposal, saying their own experts should look into it.

"It is not exact to say that American President Barack Obama rebuffed a Russian proposal," Rogozin said.

"Obama simply said that matters needed to be made clear, that we are at the beginning of the road and that he is ready to discuss everything," he said.

"We are completely in agreement about working together (with our NATO partners) to neutralise the risk coming from regions south of Europe," Rogozin said.

He said consultations would continue at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on Thursday after which a report would be presented to defence ministers in June.

The NATO alliance's vision is not for uniting its missile defence system -- which relies largely on US technology -- with Russia's but for the two systems to cooperate, sharing information and alert procedures.

Moscow and NATO broke off all contacts two years ago following Russia's invasion of its tiny NATO-aspiring neighbour Georgia. The Lisbon summit aimed to restore those relations.


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