Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Baltic Missile Crisis?

Ralph Peters was extraordinarily insightful when he wrote in September:

Among the many reasons we misjudge Putin is our insistence on seeing him as “like us.” He’s not. His stage-management of the Georgia invasion was a perfect example: Western intelligence agencies had been monitoring Russian activities in the Caucasus for years and fully expected a confrontation. Even so, our analysts assumed that Russia wouldn’t act during this summer’s Olympics, traditionally an interval of peace.

Once again, as the world paused in universal celebration, Russia saw an opening and moved:

Speaking within hours of Barack Obama’s election as the new US President, Mr Medvedev announced that Russia would base Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad next to the border with Poland.

He did not say whether the short-range missiles would carry nuclear warheads. Mr Medvedev also cancelled earlier plans to withdraw three intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia.

Also, shirking any accepted standards of statesmanlike conduct, Medvedev did not offer a word of congratulations to Obama. In fact, he did not even mention the U.S. election. In Russia, we now witness ice-cold realism at its most intractable. This is an enemy that advances when we blink.