Kommersant Predicts MD Breakthrough at Kerry-Lavrov Meeting

Check out Kommersant's preview of the 02.26.13 meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Berlin here http://kommersant.ru/doc/2135295?fp=12
Kommersant cites Russian and U.S. sources as saying that Lavrov and Kerry will discuss a “breakthrough' option for resolving the missile defense dispute, which boils down to Putin and Obama exchanging political declarations missile defense that do not require ratification and that would include assurances of non-targeting and spell out bilateral cooperation on MD, including mechanisms of mutual notification and exchange of information, joint training and joint threat assessment.
If true, the Kommersant report indicates that Moscow has softened its demand for legally-binding guarantees of non-targeting, which is what many experts predicted would happen after elections of Putin and re-election of Obama. However, while Washington may see the exchange of such political declarations as the final solution, Moscow may interpret it only as an interim step toward a more formal agreement, as it was reportedly the case when Obama was preparing to sign an MD agreement with Medvedev at the G-8 summit in france in May 2011.

See a rough translation of the relevant parts of Kommersant's 02.26.12 article below:

Russia and the U.S. seem to have found a way out of the MD dispute. The breakthrough can take form of political declarations that the two presidents would exchange to state the desire of the Russian Federation and the United States to cooperate in the field of missile defense and to refrain using their MD potential against each other. Diplomatic sources on both sides have confirmed discussion of such a discussion. Implementation of this plan will remove a key irritant in relations between Moscow and Washington , at least for the time Barack Obama is in office.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss this issue at their meeting today (Tuesday), which will last for two hours. …

Exchange of political declarations on the principles of cooperation in the field of missile defense at the top level could be a way out of the impasse. President Barack Obama does not necessarily seek the consent of Congress to sign such a document. There exists a form of international agreements that a U.S. president can sign without making it subject to ratification by the legislators. It is called the presidential executive agreements. In 1937 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such agreements have the same force as the international treaties approved by the Senate.

In his case (if Obama signs an executive agreement) Russian President Vladimir Putin will have to sign a memorandum of understanding, that would have content similar to the U.S. document. Both documents are supposed to state the desire of the parties to cooperate in the field of missile defense and to refrain from using their MD potential against each other. These agreements can also outline concrete confidence-building measures, such as mechanisms of mutual notification and exchange of information, joint training and joint threat assessment. Diplomatic sources on both sides have confirmed to Kommersant that the parties have begun to discuss the possibility of drafting such documents….

There is, however, one drawback in the presidential "executive agreement.” Since it is not ratified by the Senate, such a document, in fact, reflects only the will of the U.S. president who has signed it.

In addition to missile defense, Kerry and Lavrov will discuss at their Berlin meeting Magnitsky and Yakovlev Acts, development of economic relations, the situation around the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, and the conflict in Mali. As Kommersant has learned, the U.S. side has also notified Moscow that it would like to discuss in Syria in detail. On his part, the Russian minister will raise the question of the protection of children adopted by Americans.

The meeting in Berlin may lead to a breakthrough on missile defense.

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