US Defense Secretary Robert Gates met a frosty welcome in Moscow on a visit to reassure Russia yesterday over plans for missile defenses, a dispute that has helped drive relations to a new low.
Washington's plan to build a missile defense shield in Europe threatens global security, Russian Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, told Gates at a meeting in Moscow yesterday.
The US is offering to share some benefits of the missile shield with the Russians, saying it is meant to address a possible threat from so-called rogue states such as Iran.
Russia though sees plans to site missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic as a threat.
Serdyukov spoke after meeting Gates, who flew to the Russian capital in hopes of defusing opposition to the controversial US project.
"We believe the strategic missile defense system is a seriously destabilizing factor that can have a significant influence on regional and global security," Serdyukov said, speaking through an interpreter.
A senior administration official travelling with Gates said the defense secretary would press Putin on a deal offered to the Russians last week to share benefits of the system such as data and possibly technology.
But the Pentagon intends to move forward whatever the response, the official said.
"We're going to continue to make this effort with Russia but we're also very clear, whether Russia cooperates with us or not is really up to Russia," the official said on Sunday.
Washington wants to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic, at a cost of US$3.5 billion.
US officials argue the systems Washington wants to put in Poland and the Czech Republic cannot be used to defeat a Russian missile.
But Russians voice both technical and strategic problems with US plans.
Some Russian officials have argued the sites are so close to Russia that they could harm its security. Some also say the US could eventually equip the sites with offensive weapons aimed at Russia.
Russian officials say they support exploring a collective missile system that would protect against rogue states, but are annoyed that the US has gone ahead unilaterally.
Missile defense is only one sign of deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow.
While the Washington has made accusations that Russia is rolling back democracy and trying to revive past imperialism, Moscow charges the US with acting unilaterally and meddling in its domestic affairs.
Russia and the US have different approaches to Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is to develop atomic weapons and Tehran says is to generate power. A Russian contractor is building Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Washington also criticizes Russia for selling anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran.
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
Australian scientists have raised questions over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in establishing herd immunity, calling for a pause on its widespread rollout as the country recorded one new case of the virus yesterday. Opposition to the vaccine casts a cloud over Australia’s immunization plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on hand. “The question is really whether it is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don’t know how long that will take,” Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology president Stephen Turner said. Turner added
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client