Back in March, President Barack Obama caused a minor stir when he was caught in a private conversation with Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedev on a live microphone, pleading for the Russians to stop talking about the missile defense shield dispute until after the election.
“This is my last election,” Obama was caught saying. “After my election, I have more flexibility.” Medvedev, also unaware he was being recorded, told Obama he would take the message to current President Vladimir Putin.
With Obama having won reelection and the conversation nothing close to secret, Russian officials are now openly discussing their “expectations” of Obama following through on this flexibility, with Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin calling for NATO to listen to Russian concerns on the shield.
NATO insists the shield is targeted at Iran, or at times targeted at no one in particular. With the bulk of the shield outside Iran’s missile range and deployed along the Russian frontier, however, Russians have repeatedly expressed concern that the deployment is aimed at changing the balance of power in eastern Europe.
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