Here’s a short news clip from Lou Dobbs on Defense Secretary Gates’s visit to Moscow, during which he invited Russia to participate in “an unprecedented level of cooperation” on the development missile shield. Reading the news clips from Gates’s visit sounds like a Dairy Queen ad – characterizing the Russian response as “cool,” “cold,” and “frosty.” I get the feeling that the Russians weren’t really expecting to have their bluff called by Gates (who himself said that he felt their response wasn’t prepared, and that there was much urgent whispering among the Russian advisors). Russia’s response to the U.S. offer shows that in many ways it is more comfortable maintaining a generalized level of confrontation with the United States, which can function as a pressure valve for nationalism, and earn some easy political credits abroad. However there is a big difference between Russia pursuing an agenda to protect its own security interests, and its efforts to reassert influence over states that it feels rightly belong under their direct control. Irregardless of generous missile and military cooperation offers, it is unlikely that the United States and Russia will share the same view on the so-called spheres of influence any time soon.
“We believe the countries that emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union are actually sovereign countries,” said the official, one of several senior administration aides traveling with Gates. “We don’t believe in spheres of influence.”