In what is looking more and more like a lukewarm proposal, it appears that Moscow is at least ready to suspend their plan of basing Iskander missiles in the western region of Kaliningrad, a small Russian territorial enclave near Poland and Lithuania, and directing them toward Europe. It was reported through a news agency that a Russian defense official stated that the government was suspending the missile deployment, but other Russian officials denied such a policy was changing.
The move seemed at first to possibly be a goodwill gesture to the Obama administration, which would hopefully make it easier for his administration to cancel the US-Poland-Czech missile defense system. The missile defense plan, just officially approved by all groups involved months ago, is reportedly under review by the Obama administration and this forward move by the Russians to not do something they haven’t even done yet is no doubt an attempt to persuade Obama to rescind the missile defense deals. Obama and Russian President Medvedev talked on the phone for the first time on Monday and discussed their ‘intention’ on promoting ‘constructive’ US-Russian relations.
Concerning the missile defense standoff, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had some words: “We have heard signals concerning anti-missile defense, and we know that people close to Mr. Obama say they should not hurry and the issue demands further analyses. We are glad to hear such statements. Beyond that, our proposal on developing those systems is still on the agenda.”
How Obama’s team handles this delicate issue with Moscow will be telling of his stance against the world’s great powers. I for one do not think it enough that Russia just ‘not deploy’ the Kaliningrad missiles, though its a good start. If the US were to revoke already agreed defense plans with Poland and the Czech Republic we would need other Russian concessions, especially regarding Iran’s nuclear program and Afghanistan stability. Moscow’s Kaliningrad move (test?), which has itself not even become an official stance by no means, seems like a cheap opening to give Obama a chance to say he received something in return, but I’m just not buying it.