Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he plans for Russia to respond to the fielding of missile defense systems by the United States by modernizing Russia’s nuclear force in order to overcome the defense.
This is not surprising because Russian officials have been stating for some time that they plan to seek offensive nuclear capabilities to counter U.S. non-nuclear defenses and have been actively pursuing a nuclear modernization program. The Russian offensive nuclear response to the U.S. non-nuclear defensive program is grounded in Prime Minister Putin’s view that an adversarial relationship between the U.S. and Russia is appropriate and should be pursued on the basis of Russia having both the right and the capability to annihilate the U.S. with nuclear weapons.
While President Obama should respond to Putin with a long-term and energetic diplomatic campaign to convince Russia that the better alternative is a non-adversarial relationship with the U.S. that is reflected in defensive strategic postures on both sides, he is showing no inclination to pursue this course. Rather, he seems committed to a course that permits the early achievement of an arms control treaty with Russia that codifies the adversarial relationship with Russia that Prime Minister Putin is seeking.
In a bizarre twist for a President that wants to “reset” relations with Russia and seeks a world without nuclear weapons, Russia’s Prime Minister is stating that he wants Russia to posture its strategic forces to threaten the U.S. with nuclear attack and the President is responding with, “I am okay with that.”