Obama Denies Missile Offer to Russia

So apparently, President Barack Obama thinks that Peter Baker at the New York Times missed the point on his secret letter to Dmitry Medvedev … but we can be less sure whether or not this even matters, as the Russians have already roundly rejected any overture to solve the missile sites dispute in Poland and the Czech Republic.  That’s somewhat like asking someone to the prom, and then pretending like you never wanted to go in the first place when they turn you down. 

Also, if we take a long at what the Poles and Czechs are saying about this deal, it would appear that everybody across the Atlantic seems to prefer to keep the frozen status quo for the time being, despite the contradictory bellyaching we hear from the Kremlin.  Diplomatic relations between these two countries could be so much easier if the Russians were actually clear about what they want, and the Americans more transparent about what they are offering.  Over the course of just one brisk daily news cycle, the “space” in which Washington and Moscow have to maneuver just got considerably tighter.

After the jump, a piece of gossip passed to me by a journalist friend from a major news organization.

An unnamed official within the Obama administration is telling my guy that there are optimistic “expectations” that the President and Medvedev will hold a special private breakout session on the sidelines of the G20 in London next month to talk about the Iran issue – though of course we still have contradictory preferences here, so I think we’ll just see some more tapdancing.

This same source said that Obama’s letter made it clear to the Russians that the Polish and Czech plans “could be affected” if Russia were to cooperate with the United States in countering the Iranian threat, and that if this threat is not present, there will be no need to proceed with the missile sites. So it wasn’t exactly a quid pro quo, but he said “we can get there” even if that’s still a long way away.

These kinds of loose definitions of “cooperation” and what constitutes definitive action on “countering” the Iranian threat will give the Kremlin plenty of wiggle room to buy more time, but the fact that the New York Times report created an embarrassing situation for Russia is unlikely to result in generous spirits.