When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Russia

Sinking U.S.-Russia Relations: Behind Scenes Of Toughest Ever Medvedev Speech

Typically mild-mannered, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev let loose in a nationally televised speech against American and NATO plans for a missile defense system. His probable successor, Vladimir Putin, may even boycott the next NATO summit in Chicago n

Medvedev during his televised speech (RussiaToday)
Medvedev during his televised speech (RussiaToday)
Alexander Gabuyev

MOSCOW – With arms negotiations faltering, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has delivered a stern warning to the United States in a televised speech at least one month in the making.

Medvedev went to the national airwaves to declare that Russia would quit the START deal on nuclear arms reduction if Washington continued with plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. Sources tell Kommersant that the text for Medvedev's speech, delivered on Russian TV Wednesday night, was first crafted among Russian Foreign Ministry officials in October, almost a month before Medvedev's meeting with U.S President Barack Obama in Honolulu.

"Even then, it was clear the negotiations with the Americans were at an impasse," a Russian Foreign Ministry source said.

The initial approach was considered overly diplomatic, but a draft text was given teeth with more concrete measures following discussions in September with the Russian Security Council and the Russian Defense Ministry. The source said after talks with Obama made it clear that neither he nor any U.S president could give legal guarantees of safety, a tougher response was drafted.

A NATO source has told Kommersant that Medvedev's harsh words will not slow down the missile shield project, effectively ending hopes for a lasting "reset" in relations between the countries.

The US missile defense plans for Eastern Europe envision missile interceptors and radars being placed in new NATO members near the Russian border. The Atlantic alliance and Washington say the defense weapons would counter a threat from Iran which is developing long-range missiles and an alleged nuclear weapons program. But Moscow objects, saying the shield would be able to intercept Russian missiles.

Medvedev's televised address to the nation on Wednesday was him at his toughest in his four years as president, as he accused the US and NATO of undermining Russia's security. He said Moscow would target shield sites in Europe with its own Iskander ballistic missile system, implement a multi-stage upgrade of its own missile forces and exit the START treaty, the main focus of a reset in relations.

A Chicago boycott?

Kremlin sources tell Kommersant that unless Washington makes concessions, Moscow will continue its hard stance, and Vladimir Putin may boycott the next NATO summit in Chicago next year, at which point Putin is expected to be president again.

Chief editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs, Fyodor Lukyanov, said progress over missile defense could not wait.

"This will cause irritation in the US, especially as Obama has long said that a reset in ties with Russia is one of his key foreign policy achievements, and has defended Russia in front of Congress. Now the Kremlin has dealt a blow to Obama and handed the Republicans an advantage," Lukyanov said.

One diplomat said: "After this speech, any idea of a reset in relations is buried. And if the statement is for domestic consumption ahead of an election, then it is all the more depressing."

Still, despite all the sound and fury from Medvedev, the measures he announced had already been in the offing for a long time. A radar is already being built near Kaliningrad while the increase in aerospace defense he referred to has already been developed. Also, the placement of the Iskander missile system in Kaliningrad was announced back in 2007.

But a NATO source said the West's strong reaction to Medvedev's statement was unavoidable.

"There is regret over what Medvedev said. We intend to seek a compromise and offer new ideas. But so far, Russia has rejected all our proposals. Moscow needs to understand that the missile defense system will be deployed no matter what."

Read the original article in Russian

Photo - RussiaToday

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

The Royal Mint unveiled the first coins featuring the portrait of King Charles

Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Akkam!*

Welcome to Friday, where an attack on a line of civilian cars kills at least 25 in Ukraine, a suicide bomb attack in Kabul leaves 23 dead, and the first coins with King Charles’ portrait are unveiled. Meanwhile, Timour Ozturk reports from Istanbul for French daily Les Echos on how the historic Turkish city becomes the prime destination for Russians fleeing military conscription.

[*Oromo, Ethiopia]

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ