The 19-member NATO alliance and Russia will begin trading technical information on their various systems to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles to see if the defenses could possibly work together or operate side by side in battle. NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson announced the new cooperation at a May 13 meeting in Moscow.
This new “interoperability” study is expected to take months, not years, and will cost approximately one to two million dollars, according to a NATO spokesperson. The objective is not for NATO and Russia to build a joint system, but to assess how their separate systems might function together.
A NATO-Russia Council ad hoc working group on theater missile defenses (TMD) will conduct the study. TMD systems do not include defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. Created in June 2002, the group recently completed a compendium of approximately 250 common terms for air and missile defenses in English, French, and Russian.
Lord Robertson expressed optimism about the new study, predicting that it would be “enormously productive in the future.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin first proposed the creation of a European TMD system in mid-2000. Russia later presented a vague proposal on the subject to NATO in February 2001. Some commentators interpreted Moscow’s efforts as an attempt to undercut the U.S. push to win acceptance of its strategic missile defense plans.