MISSILE DEFENSERussians have a long-standing beef about the U.S. missile defense system planned for Europe, dating back to the Reagan administration’s disputes with the Soviet Union. The Russians see the system as a threat to the viability of their own nuclear arsenal as a deterrent. American officials have always maintained that the missile defenses are meant to protect NATO allies and counter any threat from Iran. Obama was denounced by Republican critics when in March 2012 he was caught, unaware that he was speaking into an open microphone, assuring Russia’s then-president, Dmitry Medvedev, that he would have more flexibility on the issue once re-elected. Russia complains there’s been little sign of movement on missile defense since Election Day.