A day after Barack Obama was re-elected U.S. President, Russia reminded him of his promise to show “more flexibility” on missile defence, the main apple of discord between Moscow and Washington.
“We hope now that President Obama has been re-elected he will be more flexible on taking into account the opinions of Russia and other countries on the shape of the NATO missile defence,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of Russia’s military-industrial complex.
Mr. Obama was famously overheard on an open microphone in Seoul last year telling the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “greater flexibility” on issues of discord with Russia, “particularly missile defence.”
Speaking at an international conference on nuclear weapons and international security on Thursday, Mr. Rogozin demanded U.S. written guarantees that the NATO missile shield in Europe would not target Russian missiles.
“As far as public statements that the U.S. missile shield is not against Russia, we do not believe in words,” he said, adding Mikhail Gorbachev believed in words, but we do not.”
The last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 after Western leaders assured him that NATO would not expand to Eastern Europe.
“We are, you know, the bad guys,” Mr Rogozin joked. “We need guarantees, preferably in writing, that the missile defence system being set up in Europe would be capable against short- and medium-range missiles only. As of today, its specified technical capabilities will enable it to shoot down Russia’s heavy missiles.”
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul reiterated on Wednesday Washington’s refusal to provide written guarantees to Moscow on missile defences because of potential missile threats from Iran.