Putin er...Medvedev orders missiles deployed in Europe

 It was actually his puppet Dmitri Medvedev who made the announcement. But everyone could see Putin's mouth moving as he pulled the strings:

President Medvedev ordered missiles to be stationed up against Nato’s borders yesterday to counter American plans to build a missile defence shield.

Speaking within hours of Barack Obama’s election, Mr Medvedev announced that Russia would base Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad – the former German city – next to the border with Poland.

He did not say whether the short-range missiles would carry nuclear warheads.

Taking advantage of the world’s attention on the US elections, Mr Medvedev also cancelled plans to withdraw three intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia by 2010.

In his first state-of-the-nation address, Mr Medvedev said the missiles would be deployed “to neutralise if necessary the antiballistic missile system in Europe”. He added that Russia was also ready to deploy its Navy off Kaliningrad and to install electronic jamming devices to interfere with the US shield, which relies on a radar station in the Czech Republic and ten interceptor missiles in Poland.

NATO is obviously concerned and Poland isn't thrilled either. But this move raises some interesting questions.

No doubt Russians can read American polls as well as we can and were anticipating an Obama victory. The fact that this announcement is coming 48 hours after the US election means that it has been in the works for a while. Is Mr. Putin - rumored to be moving back into the top spot next year - sending a not-so-subtle message to President-elect Obama?

Here's Putin, er...Medvedev speaking about the US:

The President failed to congratulate Mr Obama or even to mention him by name during the 85-minute address televised live across Russia.

In a criticism directed at the US, Mr Medvedev said: “Mechanisms must be created to block mistaken, egotistical and sometimes simply dangerous decisions of certain members of the international community.” He accused the West of seeking to encircle Russia and blamed the US for encouraging Georgia’s “barbaric aggression” in the war over South Ossetia in August. He also gave warning that Russia would “not back down in the Caucasus”.

“The August crisis only accelerated the arrival of the crucial moment of truth. We proved, including to those who had been sponsoring the current regime in Georgia, that we are strong enough to defend our citizens and that we can indeed defend our national interests,” Mr Medvedev said.

Of which there was little doubt, I'm sure. The question for Obama and the rest of the west is just what Putin considers to be those "national interests?"

Attention Obama: This is your first test. Please do not look at the questions before Putin says go and always remember to use a #3 lead pencil.