And so a question asked three months ago — what are we getting from Russia in return for selling out Poland on long-range missile defense? — finally has an answer. We’re getting more aggression. Of course.
He hit the reset button on the reset button.
In a notable toughening of rhetoric, Mr Putin insisted his country would develop new “offensive” weapons systems before it considered cutting nuclear warheads. He said the new weapons were necessary to prevent America’s leaders from thinking they can “do whatever they want”…
Two months later, [Obama] dismayed US allies in Europe by ditching Bush-era plans to set up a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which were previously behind the Iron Curtain.
Moscow had been bitterly opposed to those plans and at first welcomed Washington’s decision.
But the olive branch has yielded little if anything in return. Instead, Moscow has used Mr Obama’s intention to instead build a “smarter, stronger and swifter” system involving both sea-based and land-based mobile interceptors as a justification for continued tensions.
They were using it as a justification practically from the day the olive branch was waved. Back in September, while Putin was busy gladhanding Obama over how “correct and brave” he was to pull long-range interceptors out of Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia’s NATO envoy was already warning that that simply wouldn’t do at all. Now they’re trying to lean on The One again ahead of new negotiations with the U.S. on the now-lapsed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to see if we’ll agree to add a clause about limiting the size of our worldwide missile-defense shield. Which, of course, is no threat to Russia for the long foreseeable future: See the quote near the end of Closing Velocity’s post about how meager our shield is right now compared to Russia’s immense nuclear arsenal. It’s a pure power play by Putin to see if Obama will cave again, especially with the Iran standoff coming to a head and Russia’s vote for sanctions needed at the UN.
Given the heat The One took from hawks after he traded the long-range shield in Poland for a short-range one, there’s no way he can give in again, so our relations with Russia are about to take the same frosty turn as our relations with Iran. Oh well. Exit quotation from Danger Room: “During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy helped defuse the situation by secretly offering to dismantle Jupiter missiles stationed in Turkey. He was giving away a chip that was worth nothing: The missiles were already considered obsolete. In this case, the administration gave something away before the bargaining really started.”
Update: A friend who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to this topic e-mails with a reminder that Putin might not be purely posturing. Why not? Because Russia’s latest missile innovation has been a colossal failure thus far. Which isn’t to say that they can’t easily evade our missile shield at the moment, but the pace of our defensive progress may well outstrip the pace of their offensive advancements. Bad news for Moscow long-term.