08 Nov Obama, Medvedev and the Big Chill
Amidst all the global celebration regarding the election of Barack Obama there is stark news that Moscow is emerging as a serious resurgent threat to the United States. Within hours of Obama’s election Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the redeployment of missiles on the Polish border. A few United States papers are covering the story, but this report offers the fullest picture:
The President failed to congratulate Mr Obama or even to mention him by name during the 85-minute address televised live across Russia.
In a criticism directed at the US, Mr Medvedev said: “Mechanisms must be created to block mistaken, egotistical and sometimes simply dangerous decisions of certain members of the international community.” He accused the West of seeking to encircle Russia and blamed the US for encouraging Georgia’s “barbaric aggression” in the war over South Ossetia in August. He also gave warning that Russia would “not back down in the Caucasus”.
“The August crisis only accelerated the arrival of the crucial moment of truth. We proved, including to those who had been sponsoring the current regime in Georgia, that we are strong enough to defend our citizens and that we can indeed defend our national interests,” Mr Medvedev said.
“What we’ve had to deal with in the last few years – the construction of a global missile defence system, the encirclement of Russia by military blocs, unrestrained Nato enlargement and other gifts . . . The impression is we are being tested to the limit.” The outgoing President Bush insists that the missile shield is aimed at rogue states such as Iran, but the plan has infuriated Moscow, which argues that it threatens Russia’s security.
Mr Medvedev said that Russia had been forced to cancel its plans to withdraw the intercontinental ballistic missiles, which have a range of 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometres). He said: “We want to act together. But they, unfortunately, don’t want to listen to us.”
Mr Medvedev blamed the US for the global financial crisis, saying that the rest of the world had been “dragged down with it into recession”. He said that the era of American dominance after the collapse of the Soviet Union was over. “The world cannot be ruled from one capital. Those who do not want to understand this will only create new problems for themselves and others,” he said.
I spoke with a career State Department official who just retired and his words were ominous. “I know these bastards and they remind me exactly of my early years at State.” I fear that Russia will be as serious a threat to the Obama Administration as Iran or Islamic terrorism. Welcome to the Big Chill.