Jake Tapper of ABC News reports that an open microphone caught President Barack Obama telling outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would be prepared to yield to Russian demands on missile defense after his re-election, but needed more “space” until then.
The two leaders were meeting in Seoul, South Korea, and Medvedev immediately promised to relay Obama’s message to incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin:
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
President Obama has repeatedly backed down on missile defense in the face of Russian demands, most famously abandoning American promises of cooperation with Poland and the Czech Republic in 2009.
Republican opponents warn that Obama will follow an even more radical course in his second term than his first, because he will no longer face the same electoral pressures that saw his party lose control of the House of Representatives in 2010.