NATO Expansion: Russian General Threatens to Strike First

By Andrew E. Kramer / The New York Times

MOSCOW — A senior Russian general has threatened pre-emptive attacks on missile defense sites in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe in the event of a crisis, underscoring the Kremlin’s opposition to the Obama administration’s plans and further undermining relations between the countries.

While Russian officials have said previously that the anti-missile sites could become targets in the event of war, the threat of a pre-emptive attack was new.

The remarks Wednesday from the general, Nikolai Makarov, chief of the general staff –coming just days before Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is set to assume the presidency for the second time — might signal a shift to a more muscular foreign policy than that pursued by the outgoing president, Dmitry Medvedev. Paradoxically, some experts said, the general’s hawkishness might be welcome in the White House, which in an election year is concerned with warding off Republican accusations that it is going soft on Russia.

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