While President-elect Obama basks in the glow of his electoral victory, our adversaries are apparently working on that "test" that Joe Biden talked about.
Just hours after Mr. Obama president-elect, Russia announced that it will base surface-to-surface missiles within range of our planned missile defense site in Poland.
According to Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, Moscow will deploy short-range SS-26 Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region to "neutralize" the planned missile defense system. He also stated that Russia plans to jam a radar located in the Czech Republic, used to detect in-bound missiles and guide the Polish-based interceptors.
With a range of at least 400 km, Iskander missiles based in Kaliningrad would be able to target the defensive site in Poland. The proposed deployment is the most serious challenge to U.S. plans to base missile defenses in eastern Europe. Washington has stated (repeatedly) that the defensive shield is designed to protect the continent from missiles launched from rogue states, such as Iran. Moscow rejects that argument, claiming that the system is actually aimed at Russia.
While Moscow has long opposed U.S. missile defenses in Europe, the timing of today's announcement is no accident. Mr. Medvedev and his political puppet master, Vladimir Putin, are quite aware of yesterday's election results in the United States. With the departure of George Bush, who championed the deployment, the Russians are mounting a challenge to his successor, who is opposed to "unproven" missile defense systems.
In some respects, the SS-26 movement to Kaliningrad is the first "shot across the bow" of the incoming administration. Moscow is waiting to see if Obama has "steel in his spine," and will stand up to a deliberate Russian provocation. So are our eastern European allies, who wonder if the new president will stand with them against the Russian bear.
On a related note, Iran is warning the U.S. "not to violate its airspace." Get ready for that 3 a.m phone call.