Archive for the ‘missile defense’ Category

Commanders: US ready for any North Korean missile

March 19, 2009

Two senior U.S. commanders said Thursday that the military is ready if called upon to shoot down North Korea’s planned rocket launch next month.

The top U.S. commander in the Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating, told senators at a hearing that there was a “high probability” that the United States could knock down a North Korean missile. Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. commander in South Korea, said the threat “is real.”

Associated Press
The comments come as North Korea reportedly prepares for what many believe will be a long-range missile test in early April. North Korea says it will launch a communications satellite, and defends the launch by saying other countries have been pursuing peaceful space programs.

Keating said the United States is getting “reasonable intelligence” reports that give a close look at North Korea’s activities.

“We’ll be prepared to respond,” he said, adding that “the United States has the capability” to shoot down any missile.

Sharp said any launch would be a “very clear” violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution. “The threat,” he said, “is real, and it is felt in South Korea.” The U.S. has some 28,500 military personnel in South Korea.

“We call on North Korea not to act in this provocative manner,” Sharp said.

In his testimony, Sharp said North Korea continues to build missiles of “increasing range, lethality and accuracy” for sale in Syria and Iran and elsewhere and for its own forces.

The United States, he said, “cannot afford to overlook” the threat those missiles pose to Asia and the world.

Sharp said North Korea is struggling with attempts to balance increased contact with the outside world and the risks such contact poses to “regime control.”

That, Sharp said, “raises questions about the long-term viability of an increasingly stressed North Korean regime.”

Sharp also said North Korean leader Kim Jong Il “is in charge. Every major decision is coming directly from him.”

Kim, 67, reportedly suffered a stroke in August. North Korea denies he was ill.

Obama Killing Missile Defense in Slickest of Ways

March 18, 2009

By giving only lukewarm verbal support for missile defense, slashing the overall defense budget, and dealing with Russians and others to signal weak support for missile defense, President Obama will curtail the nation’s and allied missile defense efforts drastically without even mentioning the program.

Already he has reportedly offered to eliminate the European missile defense effort in a some kind of deal with Russia in exchange for Russian help with Iran’s nuclear program.

Consequently, European allies see the U.S. as not really interested in missile defnese any more.

And the Administration has backed away from military planners who suggested the U.S. should shoot down the next long range North Korean missile test.

Despite great strides and successes in the military’s missile defense effort — and even a successful test just last night in Hawaii — missile defense is a likely “bill payer” in the president’s budget scheme….and it will not be debated on its merits in this environment….

Related:
Czech’s Pull Missile Shield Plan from Parliament
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090
317/pl_nm/us_shield_czech_2

Rookie Mistake With Russia?
http://spectator.org/archives/
2009/03/18/rookie-mistake

 U.S. Intercepts Ballistic Missile in Hawaii Test

 Russia Pressing “Reset,” Medvedev Orders Military To Re-Arm

Gates readies big cuts in weapons

Obama Wasting America’s Strategic World Power; China Surges Despite Economy

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

Sun Setting On American Superpower?

 Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

 White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

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Russian Baragaining Chip Is All Paper

Associated Press

Russian news agencies cited a top defense official Wednesday as confirming that a contract to sell powerful air-defense missiles to Iran was signed two years ago, but saying no such weapons have yet been delivered.

Russian officials have consistently denied claims the country already has provided some of the S-300 missiles to Iran. They have not said whether a contract existed.

The state-run ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies and the independent Interfax quoted an unnamed top official in the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service as saying the contract was signed two years ago. Service spokesman Andrei Tarabrin told The Associated Press he could not immediately comment.

Supplying S-300s to Iran would change the military balance in the Middle East and the issue has been the subject of intense speculation and diplomatic wrangling for months.

Israel and the U.S. fear that, were Iran to possess S-300 missiles, it would use them to protect its nuclear facilities — including the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz or the country’s first atomic power plant, which is now being built by Russian contractors at Bushehr.

That would make a military strike on the Iranian facilities much more difficult.

It was not clear why the missiles have not been delivered, but the reports cited the defense official as saying “fulfillment of the contract will mainly depend on the current international situation and the decision of the country’s leadership.”

That could indicate that Russia intends to use the contract as a bargaining chip before next month’s meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama.

But the defense official said Russia does not intend to abandon the contract, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, ITAR-Tass said,

A prominent Russian analyst, Ruslan Pukhov of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said the missile contract was seen by the Kremlin as primarily a political rather than commercial matter.

“The S-300 contract, and cooperation with Iran in general, is regarded by Moscow only as an instrument of political bargaining with the West and not as a way of realizing the fundamental defense and commercial interests of Russia,” he was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti.

U.S. Intercepts Ballistic Missile in Hawaii Test

March 18, 2009

HONOLULU —  The U.S. military says its ground-based mobile missile defense system has successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile during a test in Hawaii.–Associated Press

The military says the target missile was shot down Tuesday over the Pacific Ocean.

The target missile was fired from a mobile launch platform off the island of Kauai.

Soldiers with the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade then launched an interceptor from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai’s west coast.

The Missile Defense Agency said in a statement that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system had “completed a successful intercept.”

The technology is specifically designed to shoot down ballistic missiles during their last stage of flight.

Russia Pressing “Reset,” Medvedev Orders Military To Re-Arm

March 17, 2009

Was it Joe Biden, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton that thought it was a good idea to encourage Russia to just hit the “reset” button?  Well, whoever.

Russia apparently did hit the reset button today….

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red button marked "reset" in English and "overload" in Russian.
Coffrini/Getty

Related:
 Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia

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The Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, has ordered a ‘comprehensive’ military rearmament after accusing Nato of once again encroaching on Moscow’s sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union.

By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow
The Telegraph (UK)
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Mr Medvedev’s bellicose speech risks causing unease in Washington and will dampen hopes of a rapid improvement in strained East-West relations.

The president told defence ministry officials in Moscow that Nato’s continued enlargement ambitions meant that Russia had been left with no choice but to increase its conventional and nuclear combat preparedness.

The threat to Russia’s stability had also been increased by local crises, Mr Medvedev added, in an apparent reference to last year’s five-day war with Georgia.

Russia announces major military buildup

“The attempts to enlarge Nato’s military infrastructure are not ceasing,” said Mr Medvedev. “All this calls for qualitatively modernising our armed forces and reshaping their image. This involves the enhancement of combat preparedness of our troops, primarily the strategic nuclear forces.”

A “comprehensive re-armament” of the Russian army and navy will begin in 2011, the president announced.

Despite the aggressive symbolism of the word, US officials are less likely to be concerned about Mr Medvedev’s talk of rearmament than they are of his antagonistic references to Nato.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world
news/europe/russia/5005261/Russia
n-president-orders-military-rearmament.html

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/e
urope/03/17/russia.rearmament/index.html

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Russian president orders military rearmament  

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Photo: AP

Reuters on this topic:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/2009
0317/wl_nm/us_russia_medvedev_army_2

What does Russia really want?  No missile defense in Eastern Europe and no NATO expansion….

From the Associated Press as printed in the Moscow Times
March 17, 2009

The United States should seek Russia’s close cooperation in dealing with Iran and solicit Moscow’s participation in, or at least acquiescence to, a missile defense system in Europe, a panel of former high-level U.S. diplomats and members of Congress urged on Monday.

Calling for across-the-board repairs to a splintered relationship with Russia, the commission took note of some recent positive trends.

But the panel warned that they “are deeply concerned by the gap between the current U.S.-Russian relationship and the level of cooperation that the United States needs with Russia in order to advance vital American interests.”

The commission, headed by former senators Chuck Hagel, a Republican, and Democrat Gary Hart, is a joint project of the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of Harvard University.

Describing current relations as “deeply troubled,” the commission said, however, that Moscow is not hostile to the United States, “at least not yet.”

Even if the relationship breaks down completely, Russia does not have the will or the resources for a new Cold War, the report said.

Both governments are to blame for the decline, the panel concluded. Rebuilding the relationship “is not solely the responsibility of the United States,” the report said.

The commission proposed that the administration of President Barack Obama “take a new look” at proposed U.S. missile deployments in Central Europe and concentrate instead on cooperation with Russia in confronting any threat from Iran.

A recent private letter from Obama to President Dmitry Medvedev reportedly broached recasting the proposed missile defense system to allay Russian concerns in return for Moscow’s aid in dealing with the Iranian threat to build nuclear weapons.

“Building a joint system that could include Russian facilities and equipment is most desirable,” the report said.

The United States has a strong interest in attracting Russia’s cooperation. Key U.S. allies would prefer such an approach, and “it would send a powerful signal to Iran” while avoiding new dangers from a possibly hostile Moscow reaction to deployment of the missile defense system without an understanding with Russia, the report said.

http://www.themoscowtimes
.com/article/1010/42/375365.htm

Pressuring Obama: International Actors Take Risks Amid Uncertainty

U.S. Navy announces new missile defense command

March 16, 2009

Next month the Navy will establish a new command with missile defense in mind.

Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, announced the coming formation of the Navy Air and Missile Defense Command during a speech before a business group Wednesday night in Northern Virginia.

Andrew Scutro
Navy Times

“We’ll formally stand it up in April, but it will be the place where the Navy comes to bring together the thinking, the ideas, the concept, the intellectual effort for our air and ballistic missile initiatives, efforts and programs so that we can stay in the forefront of this important mission area,” Roughead told the group.

He said it will be based in Dahlgren, Va. — where the Navy has an existing facility — though further details about the new command were not readily available Wednesday night.

Tensions over ballistic missile launches have risen in recent weeks because of news that North Korea was preparing a test launch. The saber-rattling was taken seriously enough to prompt a comment from Adm. Timothy Keating, head of U.S. Pacific Command, who was quoted saying, “If a missile leaves the launch pad, we’ll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president.”

The Navy has had several successful ship-launched intercepts of test ballistic missiles. As of November, Navy shot 19 interceptor missiles at speeding targets and was successful in 16 attempts.

Read the rest:
http://www.navytimes.com/news/2
009/03/navy_bmd_command_031609w/

Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

March 13, 2009

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said today that “North Korea poses a continuing threat that should trouble us a great deal.”

North Korea is threatening to launch a ballisic missile over Japan and toward the United States.

Today Japan said it could shoot down any missile or object that looked to be a threat to Japan.
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“Japan is legally able to shoot down the object to secure safety if it looks like it will fall on to Japan,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said during a news conference.

Sun Setting On American Superpower?

North Korea, China, U.S., Japan: Missiles, Missile Defense, Naval Power At Sea

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura says it has the right to shoot down the satellite.

Above: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura says it has the right to shoot down the satellite.

Bolton said “Japan is sending a signal to Washington not to go soft on North Korea.”

The White House has already said it will not authorize a shoot down of the North Korean missile but could change its mind.  Hillary Clinton said there were “a lot of options.”

“Japan is certainly threatened by North Korea.  North Korea, with its nuclear weapons, is a regional and global threat,” Bolton said.

Even though the U.S. Navy has already demonstrated the ability to destroy an orbiting satellite, the White House says the U.S. will not interfere with North Korea’s missile test.

“Obama’s outreach and engagement with many [including Syria, Iran and the Taliban] is in contrast to Japan’s relationship with North Korea,” Bolton said.

Bolton was interviewed by the Fox News Channel on Friday morning, March 13, 2009.

North Korea remains a trouble spot in the world today only because China allows them to play that role.
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This week North Korea threatened war with the United States — a war that would certainly involve Japan and South Korea.  North Korea could not be making such threats and could not even think about testing a long range strategic missile just now unless China consented to this brazen move or at least looked the other way. 
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China supplies North Korea with almost all of its food, oil, luxury goods and currency. 
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Without China, North Korea would be impotent and meaningless.


One of Japan’s missile defense ships, KONGO

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Reuters

Japan said on Friday it could shoot down any threatening object falling toward its territory, after North Korea said a planned rocket launch would send it across Japanese territory.

North Korea has given notice to global agencies that it plans to launch a satellite between April 4 and 8, presenting a challenge to new U.S. President Barack Obama and allies who see it as a disguised missile test.

“Under our law, we can intercept any object if it is falling toward Japan, including any attacks on Japan, for our safety,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a news conference.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement any such launch would be in violation of Security Council Resolution 1718.

“If North Korea goes ahead with the launch, we believe there will be discussions and a response by the Security Council on the violation of the resolution.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/2009
0313/ts_nm/us_korea_north_19

CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/asiapcf/03/13/nkorea.launch.japan
/index.html

Related:
 Obama Wasting America’s Strategic World Power; China Surges Despite Economy

 White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

 China Provoked Obama; Now Works To Smooth Situation: Why?
.
Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Japan Warns North Korea
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/20
09/mar/13/north-korea-japan-nucle
ar-missile


A U.S. Navy ship launches ballistic missile defense interceptors like those that could be used to counter North Korea’s long range missile launch….Japan also has AEGIS ships with ballistic missile defense systems….

http://michellemalkin.com/20
09/03/13/52-days-52-mistakes/

Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

March 10, 2009

Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Monday that he is seeking a sign from President Obama as to whether the U.S. will uphold its agreement to deploy missile defenses in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Mr. Klaus, an advocate for the deployment, told The Washington Times that he is eager to learn whether Mr. Obama will be as committed to the U.S. defense system as was President George W. Bush.

By Betsy Pisik
The Washington Times

Mr. Obama is due to visit Prague after a summit of major industrial nations in London early next month.

 ASSOCIATED PRESS Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who will meet with President Obama, said, "I hope that will be a good opportunity to understand better his views."

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who will meet with President Obama, said, “I hope that will be a good opportunity to understand better his views.”  Photo: AP

“We’re looking forward to having him in Prague,” Mr. Klaus said. “I hope that will be a good opportunity to understand better his views.”

In New York for an environmental conference, Mr. Klaus said the Obama administration’s position on missile defense is “unknown.”

“I understand all presidents have their domestic priorities, and I understand the economic problems are more important to him now,” the Czech leader said.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
09/mar/10/prague-looks-for-obamas-miss
ile-stance/

Related:
Various Views On Obama Foreign Policy: “Just Like Bush” Or Radical Change?

 North Korea Warns: Shoot Down Our Satellite Will “Prompt Counterstrikes by the Most Powerful Military Means”

 White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

 Russia, U.S. Missile Defense Dispute
.
Russian Relations With U.S., Europe Improve: But Putin, Medvedev Understand Strength, Power More than Diplomacy

 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
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Russia building anti-satellite weapons

 Russia: Medvedev Pushing Putin Out?

Russia Verifies “American, Western Weakness”

 

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

Mr. Obama and Russia
NYT Editorial: Russia only understands strength….

 Chutzpah: Admire Russia’s Arrogance

Russia, Obama and the Strategic Chess Tournament

Putin Medvedev
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Above: Russia’s “power couple.” Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

March 9, 2009

North Korea is prepared to launch a long range ballistic missile and the U.S. is capable of shooting it down.

Admiral Timothy Keating, who commands the US Pacific Command, said interceptor ships were ready “on a moment’s notice”.

“Should it look like it’s something other than a satellite launch, we will be fully prepared to respond as the president directs,” he added.

But the U.S. has said it has no intiontion of shooting down North Korea’s missile, according to the Obama Administration.

North Korea has gone to its highest state of military alert while South Korea and Japan have cancelled all airline flights near North Korea as tensions in North Asia are at their most tense in years….

“Whether they describe it as a satellite launch or something else makes no difference” since both would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution banning the North from ballistic activity, Stephen Bosworth told reporters after talks with his South Korean counterpart.

Related:
North Korea Warns: Shoot Down Our Satellite Will “Prompt Counterstrikes by the Most Powerful Military Means


A U.S. Navy ship launches ballistic missile defense interceptors like those that could be used to counter North Korea’s long range missile launch….

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SEOUL, (AFP) – North Korea put its military on combat alert Monday as US and South Korean troops began a major joint exercise, and warned that any attempt to block its upcoming satellite launch would spark a war.

The communist state also severed its last communications channel with South Korea for the duration of the 12-day exercise by tens of thousands of troops, which Pyongyang has branded as a rehearsal for invasion.

The moves follow a threat last week against South Korean civilian airlines using the North’s airspace, forcing them to re-route flights.

The North Korean military described the exercises as “unprecedented in the number of the aggressor forces involved and in their duration.”

“The KPA Supreme Command issued an order to all service persons to be fully combat-ready,” it said in a statement on official media.

“A war will break out if the US imperialists and the warmongers of the South Korean puppet military hurl the huge troops and sophisticated strike means to mount an attack.”

The North, which tested an atomic weapon in 2006, said it was cutting off military phone and fax lines with South Korea during the drill as maintaining normal channels would be “nonsensical.”

This meant more than 700 people were unable to travel to a joint industrial complex at Kaesong just north of the border Monday, as South Koreans can only cross over with approval from the North via the military lines.

General Walter Sharp, head of US forces in South Korea, reiterated Monday that the exercise — involving an aircraft carrier, 26,000 US troops and more than 30,000 South Koreans — is an annual defensive training drill.

However, this year’s exercise comes at a time of high cross-border tension and growing pressure on the North to drop plans to fire a rocket.

North Korea says it is preparing to launch a satellite, but both Seoul and Washington believe the underlying purpose is to test a long-range Taepodong-2 missile that could in theory reach Alaska.

The North’s military General Staff warned it would retaliate “with prompt counter-strikes by the most powerful military means” it has to any attempt to intercept it.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090309/w
l_asia_afp/nkoreaskoreausmilitary_200903
09085936

Related:
Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?

CNN on North Korea:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiap
cf/03/08/nkorea.launch/index.html

North Korea Warns: Shoot Down Our Satellite Will “Prompt Counterstrikes by the Most Powerful Military Means”

March 9, 2009

North Korea warned Monday that any move to intercept what it calls a satellite launch and what other countries suspect may be a missile test-firing would result in a counterstrike against the countries trying to stop it.

By AP and Kyodo

“We will retaliate (over) any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counterstrikes by the most powerful military means,” the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army as saying.

If countries such as the United States, Japan or South Korea try to intercept the launch, the North Korean military will carry out “a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds” of the countries, it said.

“Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war,” it added.

North Korea earlier announced it is preparing to put a communications satellite into space, but outside observers suspect it may in fact be a test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile.

The United States, Japan and South Korea have said that even if Pyongyang calls the launch a missile test, it would violate existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The same North Korean statement said the country’s military will cut off communications with its South Korean counterparts during the U.S.- South Korean exercises for the duration of the exercises beginning Monday.

A separate, more rare statement by the KPA’s Supreme Command was quoted by the KCNA as saying that its soldiers are under orders to be “fully combat-ready” during U.S.-South Korean military exercises beginning Monday.

The North’s armed forces have been ordered to “deal merciless retaliatory blows” should there be any intrusion “into the sky and land and seas of the DPRK even an inch.”

DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

North Korea has demanded a stop to this month’s U.S.-South Korean exercises, and said earlier it cannot guarantee the security of South Korean civilian airplanes flying through its territorial airspace while they are under way.


A U.S. Navy ship launches ballistic missile defense interceptors like those that could be used to counter North Korea’s long range missile launch….

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North Korea Again Issues War Warning

By JAE-SOON CHANG, Associated Press Writer

North Korea put its armed forces on standby for war Monday and threatened retaliation against anyone seeking to stop the regime from launching a satellite into space in the latest barrage of threats from the communist regime.

Pyongyang also cut off a military hot line with the South, causing a complete shutdown of their border and stranding hundreds of South Koreans staying at an industrial zone in the North Korean border city of Kaesong.

The warning came as U.S. and South Korean troops kicked off their annual war games across the South, exercises the North has condemned as preparation for an invasion. Pyongyang last week threatened South Korean passenger planes flying near its airspace during the drills.

Analysts say the regime is trying to grab President Barack Obama‘s attention as his administration formulates its North Korea policy.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090
309/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_tension

Russia welcomes “positive signals” from US

March 6, 2009

If Russia is this happy with Obama: WORRY!

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By Steve Gutterman, Associated Press Writer 

 MOSCOW – Russia has received “very positive signals” from the new U.S. administration but wants a missile shield plan scrapped or reworked to eliminate Moscow’s concerns, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Friday.

Dmitry Peskov suggested Russia sees the new American administration’s moves on missile defense as a crucial test of its stated intention to revamp ties. The remarks were broadcast hours before the highest-level meeting between the former Cold War foes since President Barack Obama took office and signal that the Kremlin expects the United States to make the first move on concessions in missile defense.

“We are receiving very positive signals and we welcome them,” Peskov told Voice of Russia radio, apparently referring to the Obama administration’s repeated calls for a “reset” in badly frayed relations with Moscow.

But he repeated Russia’s vehement opposition to plans pushed by the previous U.S. administration to deploy elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, former Soviet satellites now in NATO.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009030
6/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_us

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Russia building anti-satellite weapons

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Russia Verifies “American, Western Weakness”

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

Mr. Obama and Russia
NYT Editorial: Russia only understands strength….

 Chutzpah: Admire Russia’s Arrogance

Russia, Obama and the Strategic Chess Tournament

Putin Medvedev
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Above: Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin heads up a meeting in ... 
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin heads up a meeting in Moscow. NATO agreed Thursday to resume high-level talks with Russia, ending a seven-month freeze sparked by Moscow’s decision to send troops into Georgia in August 2008.(AFP/RIA/Alexey Nikolsky)