On May 3, 2012, Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov warned that Russia would deploy its strategic nuclear rockets in Kaliningrad Oblast, potentially to destroy the U.S. antiballistic missile defense system, planned for Europe. Makarov went even further, warning of a possible preemptive nuclear attack. “A decision to use destructive force preemptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” Makarov said.
The planned U.S. missile defense system to protect Europe from a nuclear missile attack has caused much friction between the Russia and United States. Russia considers the antiballistic missile system an encroachment on its traditional “sphere of influence” and a threat to its national security, seeing as it could neutralize Russia’s nuclear deterrence of Europe. In the event of a war, this would give the U.S. and NATO a considerable advantage; the U.S. or NATO would be able to launch a preemptive strike on Russia without having to fear nuclear retaliation. As a result, Russia views the system as an indication the U.S. and NATO intend to go to war with Russia.
The U.S., on the other hand, has repeatedly stated that its intention is not to deter a missile launch from Russia, but from either Iran or North Korea. The U.S. and its NATO partners, including Britain, Poland, and the Czech Republic, are committed to its deployment, while Russia fiercely opposes it. Neither side will budge — that is up until now.
“This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility,” President Barack Obama privately told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, at the Nuclear Security Summit, in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26, 2012. Medvedev replied, “I understand you. I transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin], and I stand with you.” Vladimir Putin was not the only person Obama’s “private message” was transmitted to. Unbeknownst to Obama or Medvedev, their conversation was recorded and broadcast live via an open microphone and camera.
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Photo: With the hammer and sickle and CCCP emblems of the old Soviet Union visible, Russian howitzers roll down the Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. Russia, on May 9, 2011: AP Images