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Well, now we know what the “hot mic” incident was all about. The Wall Street Journal’s “Moscow Raises Alarm over Missile-Defense Plan for Europe” (Friday, May 4, 2012), makes the connection.
At an international conference on Thursday, May 3, organized at Russia’s initiative, the Russian delegates showed computer-generated images of a hypothetical Russian pre-emptive missile attack on segments of a missile defense shield and early warning system that the US and NATO want to put in place in Turkey, Rumania and Poland. Quite a scary threat from the former USSR’s 900-pound gorilla and one-time global nuclear super-power.
NATO says that the missile defense system is meant to counter Iran’s threats of a WMD Shi’ite Armageddon. However, the Russians are not comforted, because they fear that the NATO anti-missile missiles could also be used to shoot down Russian nuclear-armed missiles aimed at the West; and such a potential threat from the west could “undermine their country’s nuclear deterrent[.]”
The Russians organized the Thursday conference in order to place their threat on the table, loud and clear, and make public their demand that they get a written agreement that the West will never use its missiles against Russia. Currently, the USA and NATO have refused to put such a promise in writing, although Russia-NATO agreements on missile defense cooperation date back to 2010. The timing of this meeting is important. It comes shortly before a NATO conference due to take place in Chicago later this month at which NATO will publicize its success in getting its missile-defense system up and running. Russia’s pre-emptive threat of a missile war against the West if the West does not agree to its demands puts a big kink in the Chicago conference.
But according to the Wall Street Journal article, Russia’s alarming saber-rattling is really a façade to hide a “tacit agreement to put off serious talks until next year,” by which time Obama, if re-elected, could “clear the way for a deal” and work on Russia’s behalf against NATO to find ways to accommodate the Russian demands. The Russian presenter on Thursday was direct and unambiguous that Russia prefers to work with Obama as a second-term president, and to cooperate with his vision of a “reset” in the USA- Russia relationship, rather than to joust with Romney whose election they feel will make things “surely … more difficult.”
So what the Russians have actually said is: if you want to keep the Russian bear from getting aggressive, elect Obama, not Romney. This is an unusually overt attempt by a foreign power to influence American elections, but it is not surprising since Romney has been harshly critical of Obama’s “reset” vision.
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