Russia, Medvedev Step Back: Missile Deployment Opposite Poland Only If U.S. Missile Shield Built

Medvedev and Putin seem to be pressuring barack Obama in a cat and mouse game…
By Maria Ermakova

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) — Russia will deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad only if the U.S. goes ahead with plans to build a defensive shield in Europe, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said, signaling an easing of Russia’s stance.

Placing missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian region wedged between Poland and Lithuania, would be “a responsive measure” taken only if a U.S. anti-missile defense system is located “in the form of interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic,” Grushko was cited as saying today by state-run television channel Vesti.

“Russia won’t deploy Iskander if the U.S. decides against plans to locate the system in eastern Europe,” Interfax news agency quoted Grushko as saying in a separate interview.

Grushko’s comments differ from those of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made just hours after Barack Obama won the presidential election. Medvedev said Nov. 5 that he would deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad to “neutralize” the U.S. system, without making any qualification.

“This is a step back and it was right to do so,” said Alexander Rahr, a Russia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “They must have realized in the Russian government that Medvedev’s announcement must have sounded quite harsh, while Obama has been rather reserved about the matter.”

`Good Partnership’

Medvedev congratulated Obama on his victory in a phone conversation yesterday and the two agreed to organize a meeting in the “near term,” according to a Kremlin statement. Rahr said that with the latest remarks on missiles, there is now “a chance for a good partnership.”

Russia has repeatedly criticized the U.S. missile-defense system as posing a threat to its territory and said it would target Poland and the Czech Republic in response. The U.S. says the shield is necessary to protect against attack from “rogue” states such as Iran.

Grushko’s remarks come amid doubts over whether Obama plans to press ahead with the missile-defense system in Europe. Obama’s office said yesterday that he has made “no commitment” to the system, after a statement on the Polish president’s Web site suggested that Obama will press on with the shield. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in an interview with yesterday’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper that “we don’t know” what the U.S. will decide.

`Workable’ Technology

“Obama’s position is as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable,” Denis McDonough, Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, said in a statement released to reporters.

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One Response to “Russia, Medvedev Step Back: Missile Deployment Opposite Poland Only If U.S. Missile Shield Built”

  1. Sean Varner Says:

    All very good points about Moscow’s latest moves, I’ve written more on the American side of the equation in my post at http://adamvn1.wordpress.com/
    Obama’s ambivalence to missile defense goes deeper than just the Third Site in Poland (which he may now have to move forward with due to Russian belligerence) and stretches back to past Democratic criticisms over whether MD is “proven” or not.

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