20 Nov 2010

Russia joins Nato missile defence shield

Russia joins a United States and European missile defence shield at the Lisbon summit today – the closest co-operation since the end of the Cold War.

Russia will be invited to join the NATO missile defence shield programme at Lisbon summit (Reuters).

Nato leaders agreed on Friday to set up the missile defence shield system to protect the territory of all Nato member states, and invited Russia to join when President Dmitry Medvedev arrived at the summit today.

The system will be able to intercept long-range missiles fired from the Middle East, particularly from Iran and North Korea.

President Barack Obama said he was pleased that Nato and Russia were co-operating again.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Nato and Russia had agreed that they were no longer a threat to each other in writing.

“For the first time the two sides will be co-operating to defend themselves,” he said, adding that the agreement was of “real political importance”.


The Nato summit in Lisbon has focussed so far on Afghanistan, where its troops have been fighting for more than nine years.

Nato Secretary General Rasmussen said yesterday that its forces would begin handing over responsibility to Afghan forces next year, aiming to end combat operations by the end of 2014 to concentrate on training.

Afghanistan’s President Karzai is due to begin talks with US President Barack Obama today about the withdrawal.

Before the mission ends, Russia is also expected to head back to Afghanistan to help Nato – possibly allowing equipment to move across its territory and providing specialised helicopters. Russia fought its own, ultimately unsuccessful, campaign in Afghanistan from 1979-1989.

It has ruled out getting involved on the ground in Afghanistan.