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NATO’s Geoana: Deveselu anti-missile shield - purely defensive, not to be part of agreement with Russia on arms control

The forms of missile defence on the territory of Romania and Poland are purely defensive and cannot operate as offensive weapons against the Russian Federation, so they could not be part of a possible agreement with Moscow on arms control, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said in Brussels on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, after the NATO-Russia Council, the senior NATO official organized an online briefing for Romanian journalists, on which occasion he also spoke about the areas in which the Alliance wants to continue its talks with Russia, among which he listed arms control, transparency of military exercises, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Asked if the Deveselu shield could be called into question in a possible negotiation of an arms control agreement, Geoana said no.

"The Russian side has repeatedly raised, without motif, concerns about the destination and the meaning of the presence of these defensive installations on the territory of Romania and Poland. I have repeated today through the voice of Mrs. (Wendy) Sherman [US Deputy Secretary of State], we have said it at NATO level, Romanian and Polish officials say it, these forms of missile defence on the territory of Romania and Poland are purely defensive, unintentional and cannot operate as offensive weapons against the Russian Federation and therefore they do not they will be able to be part of such a potential agreement," said the NATO Deputy Secretary-General.

He stressed that this was in fact a "non-subject", "an element of communication from the Russian Federation, rather than an element of real concern and that these facilities will continue to operate in the allied territory".

On the other hand, Geoana said, "there is (...) a significant mobilization of missiles of various capabilities, including the latest generation from the Russian Federation, near NATO territory, this is a matter of concern for us."

He said that these issues would be discussed both in the bilateral strategic dialogue between the US and the Russian Federation, and in the one that the Alliance hopes to have with Moscow or at the level of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), "because the OSCE has a number of tools at its disposal for conventional armaments, transparency of exercises, and so on."

Regarding the transparency of military exercises, Mircea Geoana says that the Alliance has always shown openness and invited Russia to do the same.

"There is international law to which the Russian Federation is a party that regulates the way in which such exercises are announced, prepared, conducted and observed. So, for our part, any NATO exercise - we had a very important one in Romania last summer, I was also present there - was extremely transparent, I also announced the Russian side, I also announced to the OSCE, because there is an obligation to report to the OSCE such exercises that exceed a number of soldiers, we were and we are very transparent. We encourage the Russian Federation to show reciprocity and to be very transparent in these areas," said Mircea Geoana.

The senior NATO official says that in the case of those snap-exercises, there must be transparency as well.

"Everything that means transparency, including the participation of observers, reduces the risk of misunderstanding, reduces the risk of escalation and ultimately creates a climate of trust and relaxation. That is why we are extremely open and our proposal is valid and we hope it can be followed also by the Russian Federation", Geoana also stated.