Just getting the leaders of Russia and NATO around the table to talk about increased cooperation was progress barely two years after the Georgian war triggered a near freeze in relations.
In Lisbon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his NATO counterparts agreed to work together to fight piracy, terrorism, narcotics trafficking and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. But a much-vaunted agreement to cooperate on missile defense appears less conclusive that the alliance had initially hoped.
NATO leaders had been upbeat about the prospect of Russia agreeing to cooperate in a new multi-layered system of anti-missile defenses which the 28 North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations signed up on Friday.
"For the first time in history, NATO and Russia will be cooperating to defend themselves," NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen said after the allies met with Medvedev.
"Starting today we will begin working on missile defense cooperation to protect our deployed troops on the ground and we will answer the questions that need answering for us to cooperate on territorial missile defense as well," he added in carefully chosen works which showed the limitations on the cooperation Medvedev had signed up to.
Russia had long been engaging in a cooperation project with NATO to improve so-called "battlefield missile defenses" against the risk of short-range attack to troops. Those talks had stalled after the August 2008 Georgian war but will now resume.
Territorial missile defense is a different issue involving US plans to include Europe in a global shield against long-range missile attack. Here Russia remains wary of NATO's intentions and agreed only to an assessment of the possible threats and "dialogue " leading up to a possible decision at meeting of defense ministers in June 2011.
Source : China Daily News