Wire: Poles, Czechs See Obama Betrayal in Missile Defense Scrap
Off the Wire:
"Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back."
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama's decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.
"Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back," the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama's new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere, The Associated Press reported.
Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine, AP noted.
A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.
The Bush administration's plan would have been "a major step in preventing various disturbing trends in our region of the world," Kaczynski said in an editorial in the daily Fakt and also on his presidential Web site.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he still sees a chance for Poles and Czechs to participate in a redesigned missile defense system.
The move has raised fears in the two nations they are being marginalized by Washington even as a resurgent Russia leaves them longing for added American protection.
Obama said the old plan was scrapped in part because the U.S. has shifted conclusion about Iran. However, the geographic positioning of the missile defense system would have countered threats closer than those from a very distant Iran.
(Report from newswire sources.)