"Russia's top military officer told a conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials that Russia would mount a preemptive strike on U.S.-led NATO missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe if Washington goes ahead with its plan to build a missile shield," the Associated Press has reported.
The Washington Post carried the 5-paragraph story, but buried it on page A6 of the May 4 paper under the headline, "Military ups the ante on missile defense."
"We've heard it before... We think they were showing us what could happen. I think we're far from there, but we're aware of what they're saying," the AP quoted State Department special envoy Ellen Tauscher, reacting to Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov's statement.
While it could be little more than "bluster" or posturing from the Russians, the threat of a preemptive strike on U.S./NATO military assets that are purely defensive -- an anti-missile system set to counter threats chiefly from nuclear missile-aspiring Iran -- Tauscher was the only person quoted in the story. No one with a more pessimistic point of view was quoted, despite the fact that a similar AP dispatch published online yesterday at 7:02 p.m. Eastern, quoted Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.):
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain, on a visit to Lithuania, lashed out at Russia's plans in Kaliningrad.
McCain said using missile defense as an "excuse to have a military buildup in this part of the world, which is at peace, is really an egregious example of what might be even viewed as paranoia on the part of Vladimir Putin."