It is difficult to see how Washington, Moscow or NATO would benefit from missile defense remaining a problem issue. Among other things, that could pose an obstacle to further U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reductions below New START levels. It could interfere with other types of cooperation. Agreement on a NATO-Russia cooperative missile defense arrangement, on the other hand, could remove this problem.
Real partnership on missile defense would provide a better missile defense of Europe, including European Russia. It would make NATO and Russia allies in protecting Europe, which could prove a ”gamechanger” in altering lingering Cold War attitudes in both Russia and NATO member-states.
Experts from the Pentagon and Russian Defense Ministry reportedly held productive exchanges in early 2011 regarding what a cooperative missile defense arrangement would entail. They discussed transparency, joint exercises and two jointly manned missile defense centers: a data fusion center, and a planning and operations center.
Progress slowed in spring 2011, when Russia took the position that it required a “legal guarantee” that U.S. missile defenses would not be directed against Russian strategic forces. The Russian concern has an understandable basis in principle: if U.S. missile defenses continue to grow in numbers and quality, at some future point they could undermine the balance in strategic offensive forces between Russia and the United States.
While studying the missile defense issue, PIR Center experts provide a set of recommendations which should lead to establishing the real (not declarative) partnership between Russia and its partners on the missile defense issue.