To the extent that he focused on Russia at all, Barack Obama’s attention was concentrated primarily on the need to keep Soviet nuclear weapons stockpiles out of the hands of terrorists.
But now, President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia has thrown down a gauntlet intended to demonstrate to the American president-elect that the post-cold war era may not be so post after all.
By Helene Cooper
The New York Times
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has his eye on Russia’s oil, Russia’s money, Russia’s importance in the world and barack Obama; photo taken in St. Petersburg in Russia, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Serivce)
On Wednesday, while leaders around the world were falling over themselves to hail Mr. Obama’s election, Mr. Medvedev delivered a harsh welcome-to-the-new-cold-war speech in Moscow.
He never mentioned Mr. Obama by name, but Mr. Medvedev said he would deploy short-range missiles near Poland capable of striking NATO territory if the United States pressed ahead with plans to build a missile defense shield in Europe, something that Mr. Obama has said he supports.
Mr. Medvedev put Mr. Obama on notice on the Georgia crisis as well, vowing that “we shall not retreat in the Caucasus.”
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev visits cosmodrome Plesetsk, October 12, 2008.REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov
Even his one-paragraph congratulatory telegram to Mr. Obama was brusque. “I hope for a constructive dialogue with you, based on trust and consideration of each other’s interests,” Mr. Medvedev wrote.
“It was a giant, ‘Hey, welcome to the game,’ ” said George Friedman, chief executive at Stratfor, a geopolitical risk analysis company. “While Obama would like to deal sequentially with Iraq, Afghanistan and, when he gets to it, the Russians, the Russians themselves want to be a burning issue at the top of his list.”
A general view of the Russia’s oil major LUKOIL oil refinery near the town of Kagalym in western Siberia, July 7, 2004 in this file photo. (Viktor Korotayev/Reuters)
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)