Already complaining of being encircled by NATO's expansion, Putin said putting missile defenses on Russia's doorstep would ignite a new arms race. He threatened to retarget Russia's missiles toward Europe.
Bush says the anti-missile program is intended to protect Europe from states like Iran and North Korea, but Putin said neither country possesses the rockets the American system is intended to shoot down.
"It's a defense against something which does not exist," the Russian president said. "It would be funny if it was not so sad."
Not too worked up about this actually. Cold War Redux was pretty much a foregone conclusion once the US decided to set up permanent occupation in the Middle East. Russia and China are the new dynamic duo versus the USA. The wildcard becomes Japan's tradition of nuclear ambivalence changing overnight if the rhetoric gets too out of hand.
What I speculate about is the Pakistan factor. They are a tenuous ally at best. What happens if the next attempt on Musharraf's life is successful? You then have a very real nuclear power with the means to hit Europe and probably the motivation to threaten it.
I see the strategy in placing the anti-missile defense systems in Europe. Retargeting missiles is pretty much just reprogramming a computer. Takes relative moments. I don't believe the USA particularly cares about stopping Russia's missiles aimed at Europe because that won't happen, Russia is never going to fire them. This shield would be relatively successful against what the new players to intermediate and intercontinental range missiles could lob towards Europe though. Anyone with MERVs though are pretty much going to walk through an anti missile defense system.
This new showdown gives Russia face in the world, another step towards relevance after the thrashing the USSR received post breakdown. Bush and Putin get to play out their final years in power as sabre rattling opponents of the new Cold War. It's good for the defense business, this pony show. Russia gets to use it as an excuse to at first bootstrap their domestic arms industry as a state run enterprise. Once it is up and running, expect the foreign capital to flood in. Someone has to arm China, right? Easier to build and ship heavy armament from Russia (with love!), less resource intensive and quicker time to market.
Expect to see Bush and Putin on the golf course together in 2009 ala Clinton and Bush Sr.
Bush Opens Europe Trip on Jarring Note