January 01, 2012

From Reset to Recess?

Just two weeks prior to Russia’s recent parliamentary elections (and the street protests that followed), President Dmitry Medvedev went on Russian TV. Looking sternly into the camera, surrounded by flags and bookcases, Medvedev surely confused millions of Russian citizens as he unleashed phrases like “strategic offensive weapons,” “early warning radar station,” and “missile defense system data.” Some would have been forgiven for concluding that Russia was on the brink of war on the western front.

The gist of the televised speech was Russia’s direct threat to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad region if NATO went ahead with its missile defense sites in Poland. This despite a tacit agreement with the United States on a missile defense system that would include Russia, part of the famed “reset button” in bilateral relations.

Needless to say, Medvedev’s speech went over like a lead balloon in Washington. Security analyst Roman Pukhov said the Kremlin, unable to get America to accept Russia’s security doctrine for Europe, had switched to a “Plan B,” timing it with the election season. The Carnegie Foundation’s Dmitry Trenin commented that the “reset” appeared to be “in recess” in the run-up to the elections.

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