Sochi Summit Fails to Solve U.S.-Russian Missile Defense Dispute

Sochi Summit Fails to Solve U.S.-Russian Missile Defense Dispute

George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin made what looks to be their last personal attempt as incumbent presidents to resolve the protracted dispute over European missile defenses at their Sochi summit this weekend.

Despite several rounds of detailed discussions in Moscow and Washington during the past month, Russian officials continue to object to U.S. plans to deploy ballistic missile defenses (BMD) in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russian representatives claim that the stated American justification for the BMD deployments -- that the systems are needed to defend the United States and European countries against an emerging Iranian missile threat -- lacks credibility. Instead, Russian leaders insist that the true object of these installations along Russia's periphery is to weaken Russia's nuclear deterrent.

Before the Sochi summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, while expressing appreciation that the Americans were trying to respond to Russian objections, told reporters that, "We are convinced that the best way to assuage Russia's concerns . . . will be to abandon such plans and turn to a truly collective project."

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