Viktor LITOVKIN, Executive Editor of the Independent Military Review, spoke with the Deputy Minister on the relationship between Russia and the United States and NATO.
- Anatoly Ivanovich, recently it is striking that the Ministry of Defense has intensified work on the foreign policy direction. I would even say, using military terms, went on the offensive here. What is the reason?
“This is part of the defense minister’s strategy aimed at creating favorable political, if you will, military-political conditions that will effectively and in time accomplish the task of the Supreme Commander for reforming the Russian Armed Forces. Take only one decade of August. Defense Minister Sergei Kujugetovich Shoigu met four times with colleagues from foreign countries. Pay attention to the palette of these meetings. He held talks with the Ministers of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany and Vietnam who visited Moscow, and together with Foreign Minister Lavrov traveled to Italy and the United States, where he participated in the negotiations in the framework of the “2 + 2” format (the ministers of foreign affairs and defense of two countries ) and held bilateral meetings with Italian and American colleagues.
- I happened to be in a group of journalists covering the visit of the Minister of Defense to Italy and the United States. It seemed, although you can correct me, that the tone of meetings in Rome and Washington was different. For some reason, in the capital of the United States there was not even the usual in such cases a press conference of two delegations.
- In my opinion, the meeting in the “2 + 2” format between the foreign and defense ministers of Russia and the United States benefited both delegations, no matter who said anything about this. For me, the conclusion is clear: the meeting was interesting, the meeting was constructive, the meeting was pragmatic.
At the talks of Sergei Kujugetovich Shoigu with Mr. Chuck Hagel, both defense ministers spoke in favor of increasing the level of cooperation between our armed forces and instructed their deputies - me and Mr. Miller - to intensify contacts in order to identify possible new areas for interaction. Thus, we will expand the scope of our conversation with missile defense on other important issues of bilateral cooperation.
Speaking of a large range of activities that have taken place recently, it would be wrong to keep silent about the problems. They are, and we do not hide them. First of all, this is the European missile defense problem, which Shoigu discussed with Mr. Meziere (German Defense Minister - VL), and with colleagues from Italy, and also, of course, with Mr. Hagel. While the solution to this problem is not visible. But as a result of these meetings, experts from the Russian Ministry of Defense and their colleagues from NATO were instructed to think about what can be done together to alleviate Russia's concerns about the US missile defense plans and alliance states.
We are closely watching what our colleagues on the European continent are doing in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of deploying a global missile defense system and how the degree of deployment of this system will affect the nuclear deterrent forces of the Russian Federation.
Today the concept of nuclear deterrence exists. Thanks to this concept that has developed between the US and Russia, we managed to avoid nuclear war. With the deployment of a global missile defense system, there is a risk of disrupting the existing balance of power.
In order to be clear, I want to give the simplest example. Imagine two warriors who have a sword in their hands, and suddenly one of them also has a shield. Of course, that soldier who has both a sword and a shield strengthens his capabilities in a fight with the enemy. And in order to compensate for this advantage, another warrior will also have to purchase a shield or make his sword more powerful.
The arms race is not our choice. We openly talk about this to our colleagues both in NATO and in the United States of America. But if and then our appeals and explanations are finally rejected, we will be forced to take military-technical measures in response.
I would like to believe that the window of opportunity that exists in relations with the United States and NATO will not be closed and we will be able to find ways to solve this problem. I will say for sure that this topic will be one of the key during my upcoming meeting with Jim Miller.
One more problem. Everyone, of course, knows the well-known initiatives of Barack Obama regarding nuclear disarmament. His last speech was at the Brandenburg Gate, when we were asked to reduce the number of nuclear warheads by a third. We are satisfied that today the United States agreed with our approach to strategic stability, that they, like us, believe that the process and the problem of nuclear disarmament should be considered as a whole. Look at strategic stability with all its components. Here and missile defense, here and strategic offensive weapons in non-nuclear equipment, the imbalance in conventional armed forces and, in fact, the uncertainty regarding the deployment weapons in space, precision weapons. We are ready to discuss all these issues with colleagues. Whether on a bilateral or multilateral basis. The main thing is to have political will and readiness to look for solutions not at the expense of each other’s security, but for the sake of strengthening the security of each state. In order to implement the decisions taken by the leaders of our countries in Lisbon to create a common security space from the Atlantic to the Urals.
- Anatoly Ivanovich, when you talked about the European security complex, you did not mention tactical nuclear weapons. Is it deliberately derived from this topic or will it be discussed in other negotiation panels? Maybe it will be considered in connection with a strategic weapon in non-nuclear execution?
- There is no question, as we call it, about non-strategic nuclear weapons from the general context of discussing the problems of strategic and regional security. This is not a question of bilateral Russian-American relations. This problem affects all nuclear countries, without taking into account the potential of which serious conversation will fail.
By the way, there is no clear, universally accepted definition of what non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons are. This understanding was developed in the framework of Russian-American negotiations, but is not binding on everyone. But even between Russia and the United States there are discrepancies in what to consider NSWF. For example, the parties do not have a common understanding regarding long-range sea-based cruise missiles. It is also known that the same nuclear aviation bombs can be installed on both strategic and non-strategic carriers.
The problem of non-strategic nuclear weapons was addressed in various formats. By the way, I myself had to discuss this issue in 2010 during the review process of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Then in New York, a plan of action was adopted, which implies the beginning of a discussion between nuclear states on all aspects of nuclear weapons. Regardless of whether it is strategic or non-strategic.
Please note that negotiations on the reduction of strategic offensive arms are conducted between the United States and Russia. And we have always considered this problem from the point of view of the principle of the reach of this weapon to each other’s territory. So the non-strategic nuclear weapons of the United States, which is located on the territory of Western states, NATO states, can be delivered to the borders of our country in a very short time. And therefore, by its nature, it is strategic for us.
Meeting of foreign ministers and ministers of defense of the United States and Russia in Washington
As for Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons, it does not pose any threat to the security of the United States, since it cannot be delivered in such a short time to the territory of the United States. It is at this stage that we repeat everywhere and everywhere - at review conferences, at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, that on this issue, the first move belongs to the United States. We are talking about the fact that the United States and the countries of NATO should decide on the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons on their national territory. But this is not enough. There is also a technological, military-industrial infrastructure, which is located on the lands of Western European states and is designed to serve US non-strategic nuclear weapons. We believe that this infrastructure should be destroyed.
Moreover, in my capacity as an expert of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the question arises: how did it happen that on the territory of non-nuclear states (the NPT assumes that only five countries - Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China - may have nuclear weapons, the other states voluntarily refused it) suddenly turned out to be a nuclear weapon? How is it that within the framework of the NPT measures non-nuclear European countries are in favor of the destruction of nuclear weapons, while they themselves are pursuing a policy of preserving nuclear weapons on their territory of the United States? Isn't it a position with double standards? And what is this system of joint control of nuclear weapons that exists in NATO countries today? In my opinion, this is a gross violation of the 1 and 2 articles of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Let me remind you, the article 1 says that nuclear states should not transfer, give into use and control, etc. your nuclear weapon. And the article 2 says that non-nuclear countries should not seek to acquire, use, manage, etc. nuclear weapons. How does the concept of nuclear weapons sharing in the context of NPT obligations seem to be in this situation?
For me in general, the understanding that NATO is a nuclear alliance raises many questions. I would very much like, at least at informal meetings, at NATO conferences, to argue with my North Atlantic friends about their commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
- I would like to support you and continue this thought. NATO has a Nuclear Planning Committee, which includes all members of the alliance - the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and other states that should not have any relation to nuclear weapons. In our CSTO, only Russia has nuclear weapons, and there is no so-called nuclear planning committee. We do not keep our nuclear weapons on the lands of other states, and how, it is asked, will the NATO members talk to us about equality, about the same approach to nuclear disarmament? .. Some kind of nonsense. Did you ask this question to colleagues from the USA?
- We have repeatedly raised this issue on various kinds of discussion platforms. This issue was raised acutely by our academicians, our employees who are engaged in scientific work. However, NATO states refuse to discuss this problem, considering it an internal affair of NATO, and argue that they do not violate any provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
- They keep under Saulai F-15 and F-16 fighters, which are capable of carrying American B61 atomic bombs, which are located at US bases in Europe. It is practically on the borders of our country. Pilots of countries that do not possess nuclear weapons are trained in the use of these nuclear weapons ...
- This is one of the aspects of the so-called joint control of nuclear weapons, when pilots of non-nuclear countries learn how to use aircraft that can carry nuclear weapons in wartime. I believe that we cannot accept this situation and it does not contribute to strengthening the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
- I want to go back to the 2 + 2 meeting in Washington. Journalists who were present at the State Department during the welcoming words of the delegations heard from the head of the State Department, John Kerry, about the desire to cooperate with Russia. At the same time, immediately after the press conference, which was given at the Russian embassy, Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu, US President Barack Obama spoke and said that he was taking a pause in relations with us. How would you comment on this statement?
- I can evaluate the events in which he participated. And I participated in the meeting of foreign ministers and defense ministers. I can express the personal opinion that I have learned from these discussions. Especially from the conversation between the ministers of defense of Russia and the United States. I am sure that Mr. Hagel is committed to pragmatic cooperation with us. Including on such an important issue, I think you will ask it to me, like Afghanistan.
The problem of Afghanistan, the problem of 2014, is becoming more and more acute. The withdrawal of international security assistance forces from Afghanistan poses security challenges, including for the Russian Federation and our allies. I hope you noticed how much is being done to strengthen the Russian military contingents in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on the eve of the events that will take place in 2014 year. It seems to me that the international security assistance forces were a little hurried, having made the final decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, where, in my opinion, effective internal security forces that can counteract radical elements have not been created.
The theme of Afghanistan, I want to specifically emphasize this, is one of those that binds us - the United States and Russia. We have common interests in this matter. And it seems to me that the following phrase can be applied: “We are doomed to cooperate with the United States”. I firmly believe that the United States does not need confrontation. As for us, I assure you that we have no such intentions. We have clearly and unequivocally expressed in terms of the prospects for relations with the United States - we are interested in pragmatic cooperation.
But, having said this, I want to say the following. We are interested in this to the same extent that the US is interested in working with us. Not more, but not less.
I am convinced that after returning from the vacations of our colleagues from the State Department and the Pentagon, we will have interesting meetings during which we will look for solutions to the problems of regional and global security.