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Russia Wants That ‘Re-Set’ Button Connected to More Than Just the Relationship

By Doug Powers  •  April 10, 2011 02:46 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Early in Obama’s presidency, when Hillary Clinton was on her “Apologizing for Anything Bush and America Might Have Done to Offend You ’09” tour, the Secretary of State gave Russia a “re-set” button. This was in the hope that the secret to achieving world peace and nuclear non-proliferation could be found in the exchange of cheap plastic novelty gifts.

Now it sounds as if Russia wants that red button to do a little more than just re-set the relationship:

A top Kremlin official has told the United States Russia wants “red button” rights to a new US-backed missile defence system for Europe, a move that would allow it to influence the shield’s day-to-day operational use.

Sergey Ivanov, Russia’s deputy prime minister, made the controversial demand during a visit to the United States where he met with top officials including Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State.

“We insist on only one thing,” he said of the nascent US-backed missile defence shield. “That we are an equal part of it.”

“In practical terms, that means that our office will sit for example in Brussels and agree on a red-button push to launch an interceptor missile, regardless of whether the missile is launched from Poland, Russia or the UK.”
Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, tried to pacify the Kremlin last month by offering to share information about the new system and by offering to build a joint data centre.

But Russian government officials have since made it clear that such a compromise does not go far enough.

Revealing the size of America’s nuclear arsenal wasn’t enough, so now they want right of first refusal on Europe’s defense shield? Under normal circumstances I’d expect Washington to laugh off such a request, but these days, not so much.

**Written by Doug Powers

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