President Obama’s meeting behind closed doors with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev was considerably less private than he assumed, and a live microphone caught the president pleading with the Russian leader to let the ongoing dispute about the missile defense shield slide until after the election.
“This is my last election,” Obama told Medvedev. “After my election, I have more flexibility.” Russia has been complaining about the US missile defense program, nominally aimed at Iran but in large measure positioned along Russia’s border, for a decade now.
Obama’s comments seemed to imply that the US president, despite everyone insisting publicly that the missile defense program would continue despite Russian objections, is willing to make concessions so long as it isn’t a campaign issue for him. Medvedev appeared to take the comments that way, saying he would “transmit this information to Vladimir (Putin).”
Administration officials later commented on the accidentally public exchange, saying that 2012 is a “political year” and that there was no chance of a deal being reached this year anyhow.