The 21st Century Phenomenon



Russia was expecting, for a long time, USA to cancel its plan to deploy an anti-missiles system in East Europe, once part of the Warsaw Alliance. Russia also expected USA to go back on the intention to add Ukraine and Georgia, once part of the Soviet Union itself, to NATO. This issue outrages the Russians and is a major obstacle to full cooperation between Russia and USA over the nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea. Russia sees in these steps a strategic attempt to undermine Russia as a super power and to limit its strategic options.


Therefore Russia, continuously, disrupted and prevented any UN meaningful sanctions against Iran. The best way for the Western powers, led by USA, to form a united diplomatic and economic front against Iran with Russia was to abandon the anti-missiles program, at least the deployment of some of its components to Eastern Europe – Poland and the Czech Republic.


Despite the good atmosphere between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev from Russia, during Obama’s visit to Moscow, on 07/06/2009, the disagreement was clear.  Obama said that only after the Iranian threat will be removed there will be no need for the anti-missiles system to be deployed to Eastern Europe. Russia said the opposite – they will cooperate with USA to contain the Iranian threat only after USA removes from the table the anti-missiles system issue and the NATO expansion to the East.


On Tuesday 09/15/2009 the Russian president Dmitri Medvedev hinted that Russia might consider further effective sanctions on Iran which was somehow unusual to the traditional Russian approach that sanctions and the usage of power are not productive and useful in solving the Iranian nuclear issue.


Indeed, on Thursday 09/17/2009, USA President Barack Obama said USA nixes Europe missile shield plans. Obama used all sorts of excuses to the sudden shift in USA policy and said a redesigned defensive system would be cheaper, quicker and more effective against the threat from Iranian missiles, as if someone took seriously the claim that the expensive program was basically to encounter Iran.


It is unclear, yet, if the new USA policy is a part of a much larger package deal with Russia over world wide issues.


The USA initiative is a necessary measure to solve the Iranian nuclear proliferation problem with diplomatic and political means rather then military tools. The announcement came two weeks before the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany scheduled to resume talks with Iran, on 10/01/2009, providing it was a part of a comprehensive package deal with Russia.


If the new shift in USA policy was just a gesture or a “stimulus plan” it risks to be a failure. Russia has the reputation of taking advantage on gestures, which they often understand as a sort of weakness, before raising new demands. We have still to wait and see. 
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