Vladimir Putin seems to have a chip on his shoulder the size of Moscow:
MOSCOW - Presidentsaid Thursday that tests of new Russian missiles were a response to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense installations and other forces in Europe, suggesting Washington has triggered a new arms race.In a clear reference to the United States, he harshly criticized "imperialism" in global affairs and warned that Russia will strengthen its military potential to maintain a global strategic balance.
"It wasn't us who initiated a new round of arms race," Putin said when asked about Russia's missile tests at a news conference after talks in the Kremlin with Greek President Karolos Papoulias.
Putin described Tuesday's tests of a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads and a new cruise missile as part of the Russian response to the planned deployment of new U.S. military bases and missile defense sites in ex-Soviet satellites in Central and Eastern Europe.
Let me see if I understand Putin's logic. "Europe, because you are building a defense against nuclear missiles that might destroy you, I must build more nuclear missiles that might destroy you."
There is only one scenario in which that makes any sense at all.
The scenario is that Putin seriously contemplates the possible need to use nuclear missiles against Europe.
Since the Cold War is long since over as far as the U.S. is concerned and Europe isn't making any threats against Russia either, that leads to a further conclusion: Putin has aggressive plans for the future that he knows Europe and the United States won't like.
Given that Russia worked behind the scenes to prop up Saddam Hussein's regime and more recently has resisted sanctions against Iran, there is plenty of room for concern about Russia's global ambitions.
President Bush, who has always attempted to maintain a good relationship with Putin, is again attempting to tone down the hostility coming from Moscow with an invitation for Putin to join him at his family retreat in Maine July 1-2.
Whatever the current problem with Putin and Russia, nobody expects it to be solved in a weekend. It runs deep and wide.