Russia believes in missile defense. They say so right here:
"Our analysis has shown that the initial phases of the U.S. system do not pose a threat to Russian strategic nuclear weapons," [Russian General Staff operations head Lt. Gen. Andrei] Tretiak said in remarks carried by Interfax. "This will change by the third and fourth phases, that is by 2015."
Once completed, the missile shield would "directly threaten the Russian nuclear potential," the general asserted.
Wow. Are we talking assured survival provided by missile defense?
No, not assured.
Greatly improved? That seems to be what the Russians think.
What about the missile defense haters who said missile defense would never work? Crickets.
Maybe the haters can question the Russian analysis? Or (begin sarcasm font) it could be a disinformation ploy; the Russians don’t really think missile defense will work but their actions will encourage the U.S. to fund and develop ineffective systems, causing a loss of military and economic power (close sarcasm font)?
Now, Russia is forced to employ step three of the arms control script: “it’ll destabilize international relations.”
Tretiak said the number of interceptors Washington intends to deploy no later than 2015 would give it the ability to eliminate a significant quantity of Russia’s sea- and land-based missiles. Such a capability would jeopardize nuclear parity between the two one-time Cold War antagonists, he said.
…Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that his nation would undertake a new nuclear weapons buildup if the two sides could not reach agreement on missile defense.
So how much bluff is in Medvedev’s statement? I’m not sure but it’s all aimed at Russia trying to posture itself towards a no-lose position.
Said no-lose position would give Russia an out to build more nuclear weapons capability if they want (or even proliferate); preserves the option of not building more if they decide they don’t want (or can’t afford it); gives them significant intrusion into missile defense and know-how (or maybe even provides a veto over U.S.-provided missile defense in Europe).
If they look ridiculous in the process—which they do—but still get what they want, that’s a price Russia will gladly pay.