I want to thank our Russian colleagues, Deputy Defense Minister Antonov and Colonel General Postnikov, for their briefings. The United States supports continued exchange of information between NATO and Russia on our respective upcoming exercises this fall.
I am pleased to join a discussion of what the United States considers to be the “bread and butter” of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) – reciprocal sharing of information on military postures, doctrines, and activities as a basis for working together in the NRC to increase predictability and mutual confidence on security measures. The basic goal of greater information sharing is to dispel misunderstanding or suspicion, and thereby provide reassurance about intentions and build predictability.
As we all confirmed at Lisbon, the United States remains committed to working through the NRC to achieve between NATO Allies and Russia "a true strategic and modernized partnership based on the principles of reciprocal confidence, transparency, and predictability, with the aim of contributing to the creation of a common space of peace, security, and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area."
The East-West security standoff of Cold War Europe is decades behind us. We now live in a world where we face, together, threats from outside Europe. The challenges to our mutual security are many, diverse, often transnational in nature, and astonishingly unpredictable.
This paradigm shift in threats – from Cold War tensions between states in Europe to dealing collaboratively with today’s global threats, only some of which derive from national actors – means we also need to shift our thinking on how we address mutual predictability, and more broadly, European security and stability.
Vienna Document and Open Skies
We should continue to use arms control agreements and negotiated Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (CSBM) – such as those contained in the Vienna Document – to build predictability and mutual confidence. Among all the friends in this room, I am glad to renew my government’s call to revitalize such work on conventional and nuclear forces. A decade ago we had more predictability in Europe than we have today. That’s the wrong direction, and we need to change it.
Existing regimes provide a critical foundation for predictability in Europe, which is why the United States cannot agree that the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) is dead. We believe we should work to preserve, strengthen, and modernize the European conventional arms control regime, consistent with our core principles and concerns. We also support efforts to update and enrich the Vienna Document to make it relevant to today’s post-Cold War military structures. And, we want to ensure the Open Skies regime continues to function effectively. All of these regimes work together to enhance mutual predictability, confidence, and security in Europe.
NRC Transparency – Defense Plans, Exercises
Our dialogue in the NRC on military posture, doctrines, and activities should be complementary to work done on the arms control side.
As providers of security, NATO and Russia have unique assets and resources. Ours is a special club and the responsibilities are great. We should strive, together, for high achievements in the NRC.
From the inception of the NATO-Russia partnership, achieving a level of openness about our military intentions has been an essential priority, one that has been reaffirmed repeatedly in the years since.
The members of the NATO-Russia Council can and must do more to fulfill that goal. The resources we have available to spend on deterrence and defense are limited. This is ever more clear in these days of economic uncertainty.
If we have high confidence in each other’s plans and intentions we can focus scarce euros, dollars, and rubles on the real threats that undermine security for our people and for all members of the Trans-Atlantic community today, in the 21st century. We can work together in confidence to address common threats. We can join resources and achieve more together than we could separately. That’s our vision.
It is not enough to simply say we want more confidence and predictability in Europe. We must take actual, practical steps, in the NRC and in other fora. All of us should actively engage in efforts to update the Vienna Document. Lowering notification thresholds, for example, would be a significant step forward in updating this key document to reflect modern military and budgetary realities.
We need to do better in NRC processes. The United States understands the value of military exercises. We appreciate Russia’s readiness to provide more information about exercises. However, Russia has in the last two weeks conducted military activities that press reports characterize as unprecedented in size. The United States appreciated Russia’s notification of the recent large-scale exercise in the Eastern Military District, but we received that notification only as the activity commenced. We received word of the large aviation exercise in the Western Military District only through press reports. It would have sent a positive signal if Russia had briefed its NRC partners on these activities, before we read about them in the press.
We agree that we need to seriously examine how we can increase both information sharing and practical cooperation in the NATO-Russia Council Defence Transparency, Strategy, and Reform Working Group (DTSR). The Common Space of Trust (COST) paper was an effort to do that and we agree that we certainly should incorporate useful ideas from it into the DTSR work program for 2014. However, at the same time, we must ensure that we do not lower the level of ambition on which we have previously agreed. As part of this effort, we should continue, day to day, to do good work to increase transparency. We encourage all NRC members to provide national updates on military activities – including future activities – in regular DTSR meetings, as envisioned by the current agreed work program.
Nuclear Arms Control
The United States and NATO allies have also made clear our interest in working with Russia to make progress on nuclear arms control and the overall strategic stability agenda.
Bilaterally, the United States and Russia have moved forward with the ongoing, successful implementation of the New START Treaty.
Consistent with his Prague vision, President Obama indicated in his July Berlin speech his intention to seek additional reductions in strategic nuclear arsenals in conjunction with Russia, based on his determination that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies and partners and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent while safely pursuing up to a one-third reduction in deployed strategic nuclear weapons from the level established in the New START Treaty.
Also in his Berlin speech, the President announced his intent to work closely with our NATO Allies to seek “bold reductions” with Russia in non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe. The United States looks forward to exploring possible paths forward in the months to come.
The United States remains committed to missile defense cooperation with Russia, which would enhance the security of NATO and Russia. We firmly believe that transparency on missile defense could contribute to building mutual trust between NATO and Russia as well as alleviate Russian concerns about the intent of NATO missile defense. The United States has provided -- and will continue to provide -- Russia with information on our missile defense plans. As the United States and Russia continue to discuss possibilities for bilateral cooperation, we would also like to move forward on practical missile defense cooperation in the NATO-Russia Council, building on the successful theater defense missile exercise in March 2012.
NATO’s Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation Working Group
The NATO Russia Council’s working group on Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation is another forum where we have been able to engage in a constructive dialogue on issues of mutual interest. On items like the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty PrepCom and border security, we have had useful discussion that allows us to increase openness, exchange views, and identify common challenges and solutions. We welcomed agreement on a robust Work Program for 2013, we hope to build on that success for the 2014 program, and we encourage all NRC members to engage actively in these discussions.
We are never going to agree on everything, but we still can work together to make a difference on issues of mutual concern, and thereby build trust and cooperation that will allow us together to transform the security community.
In conclusion, I want to thank our Russian colleagues again for their presentations.