While U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claims Russian Prime Minister Putin had told him Iran was Russia’s greater threat, in a meeting with American security experts, Evgeny Zudin of the Russian Ministry of Defense gave detailed presentations on the Russian assessment of the Iranian and North Korean missile programs, and the degree to which Russia believes these programs constitute threats requiring missile defense responses. Evgeny Zudin said that for Russia, the bottom line is that, in essence, neither program constitutes a threat at the moment or in the near future.
Both assessments are revealed in the secret State Department cables released by Wikileaks.
Either Mr. Putin or Mr. Zudin is not telling the truth. We can easily assume that Mr. Putin told Secretary Gates a story designed to influence President Obama’s decisions on dealing with Russia. Mr. Gates bought the story as did Mr. Obama. Both thought that Russia will help the U.S. in Iran and in Afghanistan in exchange for major concessions to the Kremlin on missile defense at the expense of Poland and other loyal U.S. allies in the region.
According to a Wikileaks released cable, Mr. Gates repeated Prime Minister Putin’s claim, apparently with a straight face, to the French Defense Minister. French government officials warned U.S. diplomats that the Kremlin has no intention of helping Washington in Iran and sees its help on Afghanistan as a way of getting the Americans bogged down in that conflict for a long time.