U.S.-Russia Agree on Working Groups to Discuss Defense Issues
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2002 The United States and Russia have agreed to set up several working groups to discuss defense-related issues in preparation for President Bush's Moscow visit later this year.
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and General-Colonel Yuriy Nikolayevich Baluyevskiy held a joint press conference today outside the Pentagon after wrapping up two days of talks. Baluyevskiy, the Russian military's first deputy chief of the general staff, departed immediately after.
Feith said the talks were aimed at creating "a U.S.-Russian relationship that is cooperative, that is friendly, that does not have any of the hostile features that characterized the U.S.-Soviet relationship during the Cold War."
He said the two discussed counterproliferation, offensive nuclear force reduction, transparency and predictability measures, and counterterrorism work. He said the discussions also touched on military technical cooperation, including missile defense.
Baluyevskiy called the meetings notable because they were the first high-level defense talks since Dec. 13, when the United States announced its unilateral pull out from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
The general told reporters of his country's disapproval of the U.S. decision. Through a translator, Baluyevskiy said Russia considers the U.S. withdrawal a mistake and wishes the United States hadn't done it.
He went on, however, to note that Russian and American service members don't view the withdrawal as a tragedy. "We are working very hard to look for a mutual ground on which we can keep working in the future," he said.
Baluyevskiy said his country would like the working groups to come to a solid agreement on strategic nuclear weapons that Bush could sign in his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in May or June.
Feith said the United States hasn't yet made a decision on any formal agreements. "We are looking for areas where we can cooperate and areas where we can agree. If we can achieve agreement, then we will be pleased to record that agreement. We will decide on what the appropriate form for that will be," he said. "We're open to any kind of document that is appropriate for the subject matter that we can reach agreement on."
One disagreement between the two sides is the recently announced U.S. plan to reduce numbers of offensive nuclear weapons. The United States plans to dismantle certain numbers of offensive nuclear weapons and to store the warheads apart from the carrier. Feith described this as "reducing operationally deployed systems."
Baluyevskiy said Russia would like to see all nuclear weapons destroyed. "We are for transparency. We are for predictability, but also we are for irreversibility of the reduction of the nuclear forces," he said.
Feith later noted many arms-control treaties of the Cold War era didn't require the destruction of warheads. "This issue about permanent reduction is, I think, a red herring," he said in a solo press briefing after Baluyevskiy departed.
The proposed working groups are a long way from the contentious arms-reduction talks during the Cold War, Feith said. The U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War definition of strategic stability was both sides protecting themselves against the other, he said.
That's "no longer the way to think about strategic stability in the world today," he said during his solo briefing. "What we are looking to do with the Russians is develop a view of security that allows us to work together to deal with threats that face both of us and not be thinking of each other as the enemy."