Putin: I Kept Trying to Tell You; You Wouldn’t Listen

Many took offense when President Putin on March 1 accused the West of refusing to listen and respect Russia’s strategic concerns — particularly on missile defense. Small wonder there was such widespread consternation.  Some folks still think that, if they read the NY Times, they know what’s going on.

The following link includes four distinct warnings from Putin; in the last one, he comes close to losing it, watching the nonchalant reaction of the journalists who were listening — sort of.

Putin’s March 1 speech reminded Ray of a 14-minute talk (the LINK is above) he gave a year ago on Russia’s concerns regarding U.S. missile defense installations on Russia’s periphery.  Planers of a Webinar on U.S. missile defense (THAAD) in the Far East asked Ray to set the stage, speaking from own experience with Russian concerns — not only “back in the day” but particularly after the scuttling of the ABM treaty by President Bush in 2002

Embedded in Ray’s presentation are four short slides/videos of particular interest, given Putin’s claims that no one has been listening:

1 — minute 3:50 to 5:20 (SLIDE)— Conversation overheard on ABC microphone on March 26, 2012 in Seoul:  then-President Medvedev, on behalf of Putin, asking Obama when he will deal with Russian concerns over missile defense systems being installed around European Russia; Obama says tell Vlad to wait till I get re-elected.  (Obama apparently forgot about it, once re-elected.)

2 — minute 5:20 to 6:47 (SLIDE)— on March 17, 2014, the day before Crimea is formally annexed, Putin tells a country-wide TV audience that the threat of missile defense was an “even more important” factor in keeping Crimea out of NATO hands than the general threat of NATO encroachment eastward.

3 — minute 7:00 to 9:15 (VIDEO)— At Valdai Discussion Club, October 22. 2015, Jack Matlock makes a giant faux pas on missile defense and Putin does not let him down easy.*  (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action restraining Iranian nuclear weapons development had been signed three months earlier, on July 14, 2015.)

4 — minute 9:55 to 13:00 (VIDEO) — Putin, on June 17, 2016 tries to explain Russian concerns over missile defense to Western journalists who were in St. Petersburg for the International Economic Forum.  Putin comes close to losing his patience as he watches their nonchalant reaction.

* Below is the transcript of the relevant parts of the Valdai discussion, October 22, 2015:

Vladimir Putin:  Now, on the question of continuing strategic offensive arms limitation talks, you are right to say that we do need to continue this dialogue. But at the same time, I cannot say that Russia and the United States have done nothing here. We did conclude a new treaty on limiting strategic offensive arms and set goals for limiting this type of weapons. However, the USA’s unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, which was the cornerstone for preserving the balance of power and international security, has left this whole system in a serious and complicated state.
In this respect, since this is a discussion club, I would like to ask Mr Ambassador what he thinks of the USA’s unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.

Jack Matlock: I was personally opposed to that withdrawal and I take your point. I would say that I don’t think that any subsequent plans for the sort of deployments were or could be a threat to Russian systems. But in general, I am not a supporter of ABM systems. I would point out that I think the main source of that is not to threaten Russia but to secure employment in the United States. A lot comes from the military-industrial complex and the number of people it employs.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Ambassador, I find your arguments unconvincing. I have the greatest respect for your experience and diplomatic skills, of which you have given us a flawless demonstration, avoiding a direct answer. Well, you did answer my question, but not without some embellishments.

One should not create jobs when the result of this activity threatens all of humanity. And if developing new missile defence systems is about creating jobs, why create them in this particular area? Why not create jobs in biology, pharmaceuticals, or in high-tech sectors not related to arms production?

On the question of whether this poses a threat to Russia or not, I can assure you that US security and strategic arms specialists are fully aware that this does threaten Russia’s nuclear capability, and that the whole purpose of this system is to reduce the nuclear capabilities of all countries but the USA itself to zero. We’ve been hearing arguments this whole time about the Iranian nuclear threat, but as I said in my remarks before, our position was always that there was no such threat, and now not only we but the entire international community share this view.

The United States initiated the signing of an agreement with Iran on settling the Iranian nuclear issue. We actively followed and supported our US and Iranian partners on the road to a common decision and this agreement has now come into force and Iran has agreed to send its enriched uranium out of the country. So if there is no Iranian nuclear problem, why develop a missile defense system? You could stop the project, but not only has the project not stopped, on the contrary, new tests and exercises are taking place. These systems will be in place in Romania by the end of the year and in Poland by 2018 or 2020.

The antidote to surprise?  Read Consortiumnews.com, raymcgovern.com; we listen.