Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will travel to Moscow in the near future to hold discussions with his Russian counterpart on missile defense and further nuclear reductions.
Dempsey accepted the offer to visit made Wednesday by Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, to discuss differences on missile defense, said Col. Dave Lapan, Dempsey’s spokesman.
Lapan told the Free Beacon that the chairman has not given his position on additional warhead, bomber, and missile reductions.
However, Dempsey has “acknowledged that there are very detailed discussions underway within the interagency on the issue,” Lapan said.
Specific dates and agenda details for the future U.S.-Russian military talks are still being worked out, Lapan said in an email.
Lapan said Dempsey has said in the past that he believes the United States “will find common ground with the Russian military on our European Phased Adaptive Approach because it is not threatening strategic nuclear deterrence.”
The European defenses will include an evolving series of missile defense deployments on land in Eastern Europe and on ships in waters around Europe.
The defenses are designed to counter Iran’s growing arsenal of missiles and what U.S. officials say will be a future intercontinental-range missile.
Russia opposes the plan, claiming the defenses will include a future advanced SM-3 interceptor variant that could be used to counter Russian ICBMs targeted at U.S. cities.
According to Dempsey, U.S. defenses in Europe are “very much oriented, … against a rogue nation breaking out with some kind of nuclear and missile technology.”
“We are committed to finding a way to move this thing forward, and that’ll continue until we figure it out,” Dempsey has said of the impasse with the Russians on the topic.
The Obama administration is set to launch a new round of strategic arms reduction talks as part of a plan to cut U.S. nuclear forces by an additional one-third from the target level of 1,550 warheads under the 2010 New START arms treaty.
Russia so far has balked at holding additional arms talks and is demanding the United States agree to legally binding limits on its missile defenses in Europe that Moscow claims could be used to shoot down Russian ICBMs.
The administration during its first term resisted such limits claiming it cannot agree to restrict missile defense capabilities to assuage Russian fears.
Missile defense supporters in Congress, however, fear President Barack Obama is preparing to cave in to Russian demands for limits on missile defenses based on the controversial private conversation between the president and then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev during a nuclear summit in Seoul last spring.
An open microphone picked up Obama telling the Russian leader that he needed time and would have “more flexibility” on missile defenses after his November reelection.
“I have invited my colleague, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, with whom we have a working relationship of mutual respect, to visit Moscow this year,” Gerasimov said, according to Interfax. “Missile defense will be one of the topics for our discussion.”
The Russian general said Russia and NATO had reached some cooperative agreements but disagree on NATO enlargement, NATO military facilities near the Russian border, and missile defense deployments.
“We do not question the NATO right to have a missile defense umbrella but we cannot agree with the lessening of the Russian deterrence potential,” Gerasimov said.
Sergei Ivanov, head of the Russian presidential administration and former defense minister told Komsomolskaya Pravda, said Tuesday that Moscow is not ready for new arms reduction talks and does not see a compromise on missile defenses in Europe.
Ivanov said the U.S. anti-missile shield in Europe does not appear oriented toward countering missile threats from North Korea and Iran and undermines the balance of forces for Russia. Thus, Russia cannot accept further nuclear cuts, he said.
“The configuration of the world security forces is changing and we must take this into consideration,” he said. “And this is what we do, both in planning and in the development of new weapons systems. This is the only way.”
Russia is modernizing its nuclear forces with new long-range missiles, a new strategic bomber, and new missile submarines.
Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler told reporters last year that the current nuclear force projected under New START of 1,550 strategic warheads is the right size to deter nuclear adversaries such as Russia and China and will provide extended nuclear deterrence for allies in Europe and Asia.
Kehler was asked about further arms cuts this week during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee but said only that additional cuts must be carried out together with Russia.
Russia also has new concerns about China’s nuclear buildup, specifically its development of intermediate range nuclear missiles that a former Russian general said last year are being deployed along China’s northern border with Russia.
The United States and Russia are prohibited from deploying intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) under the 1987 INF treaty.
U.S. intelligence agencies have detected Russian development of what could be a new INF missile in violation of the treaty. The missile has been identified as the KY-26 or RS-26.
Retired Russian Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, former commander of Russian strategic forces, said in an interview in December that the Chinese missile deployments were undermining the INF treaty.
“In this area, both Russia and the U.S. are restricted by the 1987 INF treaty and the obligations not to have these weapons and other countries are allowed to have them, for example China,” he said.
The INF bans missiles with ranges of between 310 and 620 miles and between 620 and 3,420 miles as well as launchers and related support facilities.
China currently has three missiles that are nuclear-capable in this range, the DF-11, DF-15, and DF-21.
“China is pushing quite hard now in developing those systems and they are deploying them on the Russian border and it is threatening to the Russian Federation,” Yesin said.