Medvedev wants missile defence carve-up of Europe: reports

22nd November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed to NATO leaders that Europe be divided into sectors of military responsibility to better protect the continent from missile attack, reports said Monday.

Medvedev did not go into details over the plan at the NATO summit at the weekend but Russian newspapers quoted officials as saying it would see Russia taking responsibility for one sector and NATO the other.

The president said at the NATO summit that Moscow was prepared to work with the alliance on missile defence, as the two sides sought to put an end to decades of Cold War-era suspicion.

But sources told the Kommersant newspaper that the scheme, proposed at closed-door talks, would help NATO and Russia create a joint missile defence system without having to merge their missile systems and divulge secrets.

"Medvedev's initiative can be be briefly laid out as follows: Moscow is ready to shoot down any object heading to Europe through our territory or our sector of responsibility," Kommersant quoted an unidentified senior diplomat as saying.

"That is literally to defend countries located to the west of Russia.

"Equally NATO should take upon itself similar responsibilities in its sector or sectors: if someone decides to strike at us through Europe -- everything that will fly should be shot down by Americans or NATO members."

The official did not say whether Russia's sector would be limited to its own territory or could extend further west, such as to ex-Soviet states.

Kommersant said the plan, if realised, could mark the first major joint project ever between Russia and the alliance.

The Vedomosti daily carried a similar report, quoting an official as saying the aim of the plan was "spreading responsibility for security in different parts of the world."

Medvedev had made an oblique reference to the plan in his news conference at the end of the summit, saying Russia had offered the "creation of the so-called sectoral missile defence" and it required further analysis.

"The reaction was positive and we did not expect more," Kommersant quoted Medvedev's top foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko as saying. "It could not be (described as) rapture but it it was not negative either."

© 2010 AFP

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