Remember Vice President Joe Biden's foreign policy speech at New York University last week? He slammed Mitt Romney for his "ignorance" about missile defense, and claimed that President Obama had managed to "reset" our relationship with Russia. Well, it looks like relations are still tenuous with our former chief global adversary. They're convinced that NATO missile defense sites sprinkled around Europe are aimed at Russian nuclear weapons, and not Iran, as the Alliance maintains. And if they don't like the look of the program, they're willing to strike pre-emptively:
Russia’s most senior military officer said Thursday that Moscow would strike and destroy NATO missile defense sites in Eastern Europe before they came online if the U.S. pushes ahead with deployment.
“A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATOofficials.
The threat comes as talks about the missile defense system, which the U.S. and its allies insist is aimed at Iranian missiles, appear to have stalled.
“We have not been able to find mutually acceptable solutions at this point, and the situation is practically at a dead end,” Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.
Russian officials insist that the system has the capability to shoot down their ICBMs, thus robbing their nuclear deterrent of its credibility and destabilizing the Cold War-era balance of mutually assured destruction.
Looks like despite Obama's best efforts, Russia is still suspect of our motives when it comes to defense capabilities. Of course, we already know that he's willing to be "flexible" if he wins reelection (recall: "I will transmit this to Vladimir."); he's doing all he can to smooth relations with Russia, even, it seems, if it means a change of missile-defense-plans. But an outright threat of destruction like this is rather, er, undiplomatic for a country that's supposedly our friend now. For all Biden's talk about leaving behind the Cold War mentality, there's one party that he forgot to consider that still seems like it's stuck in the past.
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