Barack Obama’s main foreign policy challenge was supposed to be the Middle East, but Russia is giving its southern neighbors some competition, writes Ben Smith in Politico.
Almost alone among foreign leaders in greeting the Obama victory with hostility, Dmitry Medvedev immediately threatened to move missiles westward if the new president goes through with Bush plans for a missile defense program in Europe, and the Russian navy sailed into port in Venezuela yesterday.
While Obama has been noncommittal about the anti-missile system, he has been clear about planning to engage Russia as a strategic partner. “The Obama administration is clearly going to make an effort to jump-start a process or a mechanism that has been in idle if not in reverse for eight years,” says one expert. While he needs help from Russia on some issues, like Iran, he has bargaining chips such as NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.