Russo-American NMD consultations have begun in the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. The US expert delegation is led by Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, while the Russian delegation is headed by Yuri Kapralov, director of the Foreign Ministry's department of security and disarmament. Alexander Yakovenko, the official spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, said before the consultations that Russia plans to put forth practical ideas on strengthening strategic stability and to debate the US counter-ideas on this issue. On May 1 President George Bush proclaimed the intention to consult not just the US allies, but also other states, in particular Russia, on the NMD plans and said the opinion of these countries would be taken into consideration. The US experts are to meet with First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov and a high-ranking representative of the Defence Ministry.
On Wednesday, April 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his Address to the Federal Assembly. In the speech, Putin annually expresses his assessment of the state of affairs in the country and his vision of the main tasks for the future