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Special Report

Russia's Latest Threat to European Missile Shield

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (via translator): Russia retains the right to refuse to take any further steps towards disarmament and correspondingly over rearmament. Further to this, taking in account the direct links between strategic offensive and defensive weapons, the circumstances could arise in which we had grounds to pull out of the START treaty.

MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We have been open and transparent with Russia in our plans for missile defense for a long time. We believe that our missile defense reflects a growing threat to our allies from Iran. The systems being deployed in Europe do not, and cannot threaten Russia's strategic deterrent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: Russia not happy with our plans to set up a European missile defense system. Let's talk about it now with our panel. And of course what we're talking about are sea and land based interceptors that would stop missiles. Charles, Russia, despite our assurances that it is no threat to them, say if you don't put it in writing we are not going along with this.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The truculent language we heard from the Russians today is the perfect symptom to of the abject collapse of the reset Russia policy that Obama has initiated. Obama essentially handed everything over by cutting off the Poles and Czechs who had agreed to house our missile defense system. Then we cut them off, canceled it as a way to appease the Russians and to substitute a much weaker plan that involves the radars in Turkey, which is an extremely unreliable ally even -- and the objective was A, to get Russian assistance on Iran, which we have gotten none after the IAEA report the Russians said explicitly no new sanctions, which undercuts everything that we are trying to do, but even on the missile system itself the Russians are contemptuously rejecting the substitute missile defense system, which we have, and saying A we are actually going to target our offensive missiles on your American facilities, and second we might even cancel the START treaty. These are the wages of appeasement.

BREAM: A.B. do you agree with Charles saying there's been truculent language? First of all, I like that word. You don't hear that every day.

KRAUTHAMMER: I carry it around all the time --

BREAM: I like it.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- I am happy if I can deploy it.

BREAM: We are glad you did tonight. But do you agree with Charles that the overall relationship is not working and that what President Obama's foreign policy has been with Russia has failed?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I believe that it had failed -- our relationship was on the rocks with previous administration and the president finds himself at a crossroads with Russia.

I do think that as much as we have, as Charles says, you know, rewarded them with appeasement and not gotten any in return, that we are going to continue to need their cooperation, whether they are a fair, partner or not, whether or not they make trouble. We have to continue to deal with them as we seek to face the challenge of containing Iran, which will increase as we depart from Iraq and Afghanistan in the years to come. So that becomes even more important down the road. And that is coming soon. And we know that we are staring that in the face.

I think that this was likely, as people usually suspect of the Russians, a domestic message targeted at the Russian street, with parliamentary elections coming up in 10 days, but it does beg the question of whether or not with this strong threat NATO is gonna be forced to respond in defense of our other allies in Europe, the smaller countries. And that is a problem.

But I think Iran is the key. As we face a growing conflict and possible confrontation with the Iranians and we leave that region, I think we need the Russians, like it or not, more than we do today. And we have to continue to keep something alive with them.

BREAM: David, we heard from the administration, through Tommy Vietor the NSC spokesman today, he said, ya know nothing that we're doing can threaten Russia. It's not about that. The implementation of the new START treaty is going well. And it says, ya know we're gonna keep talking about this and look for cooperation, but we will not in any way limit or change our deployment plans in Europe. So are we getting tough or is it too little too late on this issue?

DAVID DRUCKER, REPORTER, ROLL CALL: Well, time will tell. I think the administration's response was correct, but I think this whole situation is indicative of where the administration finds itself in its efforts to reach out to our adversaries and competitors with carrots sometimes and maybe not enough sticks.

The president has expended a lot of political capital in terms of international foreign policy and his standing as a leader with the Russian reset policy. And if this is not just some bluster that is not going to go away over a Thanksgiving weekend and we head into next year and there is a lot of noise coming out of Russia about this, it hurts the president's standing internationally and it could potentially be an issue in the 2012 elections given that there have already been questions from voters about his leadership and his strength.

He has a lot of foreign policy victories he can tout, but this was central to him. And it leads people to ask does he carry any weight? Are the Russians even afraid of what he might do if they turn their back on him?

BREAM: All right, panel, thank you very much. That's it for panel unless you join us online in a little bit.

But stay tuned. Are you part of a family that avoids controversial topics around the Thanksgiving table or do you let it all out? We're gonna check in on a very spirited Thanksgiving group right after the break.

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