Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Russia Rearms: Why is the Bear Roaring?

Posted by K.E. White on March 17, 2009

President Dmitry Medvedev announced a “large scale rearming” of Russia’s conventional and nuclear forces in 2011. 

The NYTimes portrays it as a mix of diplomatic posturing for Medvedev’s meeting with Obama and the response to Russian military weaknesses shown in the recent Georgia-Russian war. The Guardian heralds the new arms race, putting blame squarely on America’s maximalist foreign policy. And Canda.com views the announcement as geared more towards the Russian public. 

In short, the move is not welcome news—but it’s not entirely unexpected. And its meaning will take form over this year. Medvedev has drawn various lines in the sand: moves towards having airbases in Cuba, setting up bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, helping rid of an American base in Kyrgyzstan, and now a rearmament announcement. Keep in mind, Russia has for years protested expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe–and drew a bloodly red line in Georgia.

And let’s not ignore another possible cause of this announcement: the economic crisis. Russia may be signaling that current economic woes will not change their strategic objectives. 

But one thing is clear: The US-Russian relationship is entering a critical phase, and the Obama administration must tread carefully.  

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