U.S. Shield Proposals Fail to Sway Kremlin

The Kremlin on Wednesday rejected U.S. proposals aimed at easing concerns over a missile-defense system in Europe and said it would try again to resolve the dispute once Barack Obama is in the White House.

Russia says the planned U.S. system will threaten its national security and that the administration of George W. Bush, who leaves office in January, has failed to allay its concerns.

"Russia is ready to cooperate with the United States on European security but considers the proposals that were sent insufficient," an unidentified Kremlin official told Russian news agencies. "We will not give our agreement to these proposals, and we will speak to the new administration."

The Kremlin press office declined to comment.

The Bush administration "is intent on putting the new U.S. president in a hopeless situation, so that he should take responsibility for what they concocted without him," the source said.

President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that he planned to deploy missile systems near Poland's border if the United States goes forward with its plans to install elements of the proposed missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Washington says the missile-defense system is needed to protect the United States against missile strikes from what it calls rogue states, specifically Iran.

President-elect Obama has said he would make sure the system had been proven to work before deploying it — a more cautious approach than that of the Bush administration, which has been pressing to have the system operational as soon as possible.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this weekend after meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the latest U.S. proposals were insufficient. The United States had proposed confidence-building measures that included allowing Russian representatives access to sites where the missile system is to be deployed and providing real-time video-monitoring of activities at the sites.

In Brussels, Russia's ambassador to the European Union said Medvedev's speech had been intended as a signal to the Obama administration.

"Russia has been warning the international community for many months that we would have to react," Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told reporters ahead of an EU-Russia summit Friday in Nice, France. "I don't want to prejudge any decision that President-elect Obama will be taking, but I believe it's best for him to know what to expect from Russia in case this decision is taken."

A U.S. official said separately that the United States and Russia would begin talks Thursday on finding a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires at the end of next year.

She said the talks would take place in the U.S. and Russian diplomatic missions in Geneva and last until Nov. 21.

The official spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to be quoted by name.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said the U.S. State Department's third-ranked official, William Burns, met with Lavrov, Kremlin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

Reuters, AP