Moscow’s Challenge to Obama

In his maiden address to the Russian Parliament, President Dmitri Medvedev blamed the United States for Moscow’s war with Georgia and for the world financial crisis. Washington, Medvedev said, was threatening Russia’s security with the creation of a missile defense system and new NATO military bases around Russia‘s western and southern flanks. “We have gotten the clear impression that they are testing our strength,” Medvedev said in his speech, which was made on the day U.S. voters elected Barack Obama president, and which at times recalled Soviet era rhetoric.

Time Magazine

In response, Medvedev said that Moscow had canceled the long planned dismantling of the Kozelsk ICBM Division and would deploy short-range Iskander missiles and electronic jamming systems in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

The Russian president’s words were presumably timed to remind America’s newly-elected president that Moscow still matters. But Medvedev’s threats are not quite as tough as they might sound. The Kozelsk Division consists of 46 missiles built in 1979. The weapons have now been in service three times longer than planned and the harsh truth is that Russia is struggling to build the next generation long-range missiles.

President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy ... 
President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy missiles on the EU’s doorstep in a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington’s allies in central Europe.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

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