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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Neither Side to Bend On Missile Defense

Russian and U.S. officials are to hold fresh talks this week on Washington's planned missile defense scheme, but analysts offered little hope that either side would give way on issues of principle.

The meetings get under way in Moscow on Tuesday, with U.S. Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith meeting the first deputy chief of Russia's military staff, General Yury Baluyevsky, at the Defense Ministry. On Thursday, the focus shifts to London, where Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov sits down with U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov flies a week later to the United States, where he is to meet Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"I don't think much progress is likely at these talks," said independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. "Big changes cannot be expected at this level. But nor do I think summits are in jeopardy. Moscow is too keen on them taking place."

Baluyevsky told Interfax that Russia would stress arms cuts and the link with missile defense, while Feith stuck to Washington's line in discussions with reporters at the Pentagon last week, saying Russia would have no veto power over U.S. plans.

Defense analyst Alexander Golts said Russia was increasingly frustrated at what it felt was the U.S. inability to produce a concrete idea of what its missile defense scheme would entail. He also warned against Russia overestimating opposition to the scheme within the U.S. Congress or in Western Europe.

"Russia feels that the United States is simply not prepared to discuss any proposal it might come up with on ABM and both sides are running out of time," he said. "But any suggestion that the summit may fall through should be viewed as a bluff. It is important for [President Vladimir] Putin to be viewed as a member of the club."

The United States will not insist that Russia agree to its new missile defense strategy by the time of Putin's visit in November, Powell said Thursday.

"We shouldn't see November as necessarily make or break," Powell said in an interview. "We have to keep all options open as to how we move forward, and all those options are being kept open.'' Echoing other top administration officials, he said Washington would not wait indefinitely.

"We'll have to see what happens between now and November and then make our judgment with respect to how our program is going forward and whether we feel we can't wait any longer or whether we can continue consulting with our allies, talking to the Chinese and also seeing what might be possible with the Russians," he said.