Here is how Russia decided to use its idea of a ban on "deployment of strategic offensive arms outside of national territories", which first appeared in the March 7 presidential statement. I guessed at the time that this is somehow related to missile defense, but I didn't expect that the Kremlin would be that brazen - it wants to declare that missile defense is a strategic system and therefore should be confined to national territories.

In his remarks to the NPT Prepcom conference in New York Anatoly Antonov, the head of the arms control department at the Foreign Ministry, said that (emphasis added): is important to reiterate the START Treaty provision which says that the Parties' respective arms shall not be deployed outside their national territories. We attach great importance to this provision in regard to both offensive and defensive systems.

The idea that missile defense is a "strategic system" is not exactly new - this was something that then president Putin liked to point out when talking about the system in Europe - something along the lines that "this is the first time the United States deploys elements of its strategic systems in Europe". This line is still somewhere in the Foreign Ministry talking points. It is also clear that Russia wouldn't mind brining the ABM Treaty back in some shape or form. So, I guess it was probably just the matter of time before someone came up with the idea of bundling the two together.

It is not that missile defense, outside of national territory or not, is a good idea. But linking missile defense directly to the START Plus negotiations is not much better - the new treaty has enough problems already. Let's hope this idea remains a theoretical point rather than a negotiating instruction.