March 26th, 2012
08:27 AM ET

Open mic catches Obama asking Russian president for space on missile defense

In a private conversation about the planned U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe, President Obama asked outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev for space on the issue.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space,” Obama told Medvedev.

“Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space,” Medvedev replied.

"This is my last election," Obama said. "After my election I have more flexibility."

"I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir," Medvedev said, referring to incoming President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders talked Monday during a formal one-on-one meeting ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.  In video they are seen seated, almost huddled, facing each other, each man with his elbows on his knees, leaning in closely over a small table, as they speak intently. Part of the exchange was caught on camera at the end of the 90-minute meeting as reporters and cameras entered the room for a quick photo opportunity of Obama and Medvedev.

It's a prickly issue between the two countries.  NATO and U.S. leaders insist the project is designed to protect against a potential Iranian strike and would not be used against Russia. But Russia bristles at having a missile defense system so close to its border, arguing it violates Russian sovereignty.

“The United States is committed to implementing our missile defense system, which we’ve repeatedly said is not aimed at Russia," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, in a statement.   "However, given the longstanding difference between the U.S. and Russia on this issue, it will take time and technical work before we can try to reach an agreement."

Rhodes acknowledged the difficulty of finding a solution when politics are at play.  "Since 2012 is an election year in both countries, with an election and leadership transition in Russia and an election in the United States, it is clearly not a year in which we are going to achieve a breakthrough. Therefore, President Obama and President Medvedev agreed that it was best to instruct our technical experts to do the work of better understanding our respective positions, providing space for continued discussions on missile defense cooperation going forward.”

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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. City Dog

    Thank CNN, not even Fox News had the courage to report this story!

    March 26, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • RJohns

      Well that's a blatant lie. Fox made it on the front page for all to see, unlike CNN who cautiously buried it in the sidelines in hopes that it won't be noticed. I'm just surprised Media Matters gave CNN the go ahead to publish something that could wind up hurting them.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • aveman21

      March 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • TJ

      Right.....Look at Fox's page. It's the main story. This is an absolute joke. This is the hypocrisy of the left. They don't even cover this story on the front page. This is bigger than etch-a-sketch....this is flat out catering to some sticky stuff. WOW CNN...even MSN covered this story on its front page. All you Dems can keep up the hypocrisy though.

      March 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  2. S.positive

    Pace yourself Mr President, you cannot do everything in one term. Pace yourself Sir...

    March 26, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Howard

      Obama's promises of transparency have turned out to be a sick joke. Like Hugo Chavez, Obama exploited democracy, to get elected, but once in power, he is systematically removing oversight, accountability, citizen's rights, and freedoms ... all of which are guaranteed in our constitution ... which Obama is trashing. If Obama gets a second term, America will soon be living in a dictatorship, just like Venezuela.

      March 26, 2012 at 11:54 am |
      • Delu

        Actually as far as the right is concerned, Obama is actually putting regulations on business, "oversight" that was called upon after the collapse. That's why he was labeled by them as "anti-business".

        Accountability? Well how were Bush and Cheney held accountable for the Iraq war? and what exactly is it that you believe Obama should be held accountable for? (the same standard should then be levied on all Presidents past and future).

        Citizen's rights and freedoms........worker's bargaining rights, teacher's rights, women's rights (on the abortion issue) etc, yeah those were some serious issues that came up during his term........

        Except that he wasn't the one against those rights.....

        March 28, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Slethwa

      Yes, pace yourself. It may take more than 4 years to ruin a country as old and good as ours. We all know Obama is trying to fast-track it.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
      • Anaximander Q. Curmudgeon

        Yeah. It took Bush 8 years to tank the entire world economy, nearly bankrupt America, and involve us in a couple trillion dollars worth of useless wars. Given that standard, Mr. Obama is hardly doing a thing...just trying to get health care for most Americans and preventing a total meltdown in the MidEast that previous administrations have shattered.
        No sir, even asking the Russky's to cooperate in a goal that is mutually beneficial is not so destructive as a single day of Bush! [In fact, some might even consider it not to be destructive, at all.....]

        March 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Greg Kells

      you misspelled anything.

      March 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  3. blahblahblah

    Just like with the Keystone Pipeline... Get re-elected and then do whatever you want. Why should anyone know what they are voting for...

    March 26, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  4. Sahara

    I mean, this is International Politics and NPT for that matter, countries have a strong holds on many issues, one nation may not get it all when it comes to negotiations, its not a big deal if a president looks at a colleague a say, come on brother, bear with me please, lets get ths done, its not a bigger of a deal America, in International Politics, u have to employ every diplomatic tactics, but mark my words, Obama is a strong man, he is indeed a leader, that all and how you can get things done.

    March 26, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Tiffany Sayers

      Your post is not clear at all. Face facts, the Russians do not want the missile shield and Obama when he said he needs space is saying this. "I need space" which translated means "Let me convince the American people that I will take a tough stance with Russia up to the election but after I will decide not to put up the shield because I can."

      March 27, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • olegreg

      1) No proof of presidency (evidence everywhere)
      2)Learn for yourself, why both zero and his wife were stripped of the right to practice law
      3)National debt already at least 14% more in the hole as when term began
      4)Sends his daughter to Mexico for spring break on our coin (yours too)
      5)Opens our borders to the very people that tried to tear us down with wide open arms
      6)Wants to disarm Americans to make us easier targets (good luck taking my weapon)
      7)Our country was based on GOD, not allah (if you love allah, go worship in mecca, not the USA)
      -People who believe this Jr. Senators crap still, are just moronic and are his target demographic. You should get the facts...Go, anyone but Obama aka Barry. He doesn't even use his own real name. What is he, a DJ?

      August 25, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  5. In2win

    Slow down and breath.... Mr President take care of U.S health care and Economy and everything else will fall in to place.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  6. GrouchyKat

    Politics as usual for Obamanation.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  7. cowcharge

    What a pantload. What he was saying is "I have to act tough until I'm safely reinstalled, then I can do whatever you want."

    March 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  8. shish

    CNN...How come you hide this? This should be headlines. This treasonous commie plant is selling out our country and as usual the Lame stream Media stands complicit. When will you wake up. This fool will have tons of time after November. I hope Moochelle knows though that they will be paying for their own vacations.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  9. cowcharge

    "Awaiting moderation"? I won't hold my breath.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  10. rightytighty

    And yet, some still think Hillary's "Over Charge" button was just a "mistake"...

    March 26, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  11. rightytighty

    Yeah, Obama will have plenty of time after the election.
    On the liberal speech circuit that is, still blaming others for not doing what he promised of course.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  12. RealityBites

    The conversation was relayed by a TV pool producer who listened to the recording from a Russian journalist.

    Its official..., Russians journalistic standards have now surpassed Americas.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Lefty

      Excellent point, our media by and large props up the left and justifys them. Just look at the Health Care case, they want the conservatives and Kennedy to be "open minded" yet nothing is said about the liberal judges. The media constantly shovels out propaganda for the left, it's shocking that CNN even posted this.

      March 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • rightytighty

      I wonder if the media covers for the president in Russia? Whats that called again??

      CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar
      "In a private conversation about the planned U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe, President Barack Obama asked outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for space on the issue. "

      March 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
      • Vanderleia

        What i do not understood is calualty how you are not calualty much more well-liked than you may be right now. You are so intelligent. You realize thus significantly on the subject of this matter, made me for my part believe it from numerous varied angles. Its like women and men aren't interested except it is something to do with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs great. Always handle it up!

        April 2, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  13. 1termpresident

    Don't try to defend it- he is proclaiming that he will stand one way today and another after November. I don't see how either party could like a flip flopper like that. Talk about misleading the public.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  14. Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

    I would not worry. we can live with it Vlad, have done since 2008. We can take it if we wanted too, we proved that, the apparatus. Your the tough guy Vlad you do it.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  15. streetheat

    The president demonstrates his lack of understanding as it pertains to Einstein's Theory Of Relativity. He request more "space" from Putin, yet assumes the American people have already given him more "time". Hold on Mr. President. You cannot have one without the other. Time itself will tell. Wait until after Nov. 7th.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  16. rightytighty

    Whats the bid deal?
    Obama is merely repeating what he has said to all his blind supporters. The only difference is that the Russians aren't saps for his never ending promises..

    March 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  17. sara

    So What? Keep protecting us, Mr. President. They DIDN'T. Work it!

    March 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  18. Chris, Austin

    Former president Bush (II) did not campaign on privatizing Medicare, which if he had, would have kept him from getting re-elected. But after his re-election, he publicly stated that being given a 2nd term gave him "political capital" and he was going to spend it to give medicare to Wall Street to play with. But the legislature didn't pass the bill, even with a GOP majority in both houses.

    Getting re-elected does give a president more power, but not unlimited power.

    Yay Constitution.

    March 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • olegreg

      If he gets elected again...There won't be a constitution. That is the point. He does not believe in our constitution and he doesn't hide it. Also in those famous pics everyone had to have seen, why were all the other officials saluting our flag, and he stood there holding his own hands?

      August 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  19. Chris, Austin

    Former president Bush (W) did not campaign on privatizing Medicare, which if he had, would have kept him from getting re-elected. But after his re-election, he publicly stated that being given a 2nd term gave him "political capital" and he was going to spend it to give medicare to Wall Street to play with. But the legislature didn't pass the bill, even with a GOP majority in both houses.

    Getting re-elected does give a president more power, but not unlimited power.

    Yay Const!tution.

    March 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  20. cnnloudmouth

    Obama should have told Russia that "He was the Decider". Worked for Dubya.

    March 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Mary

      Clinton gave Bush a bursting dctoom bubble. Then was 9/11. Check Bush's unemployment #s after cutting taxes. Impressive. The debt never went down under Clinton. He only had a smoke and mirrors budget surplus because he borrowed money from other areas of government. Clinton and a bipartisan Congress also gave us the repeal of Glass-Steagall. (kind of important.) Right-wing policies didn't fail us. Big-government polices of both the right and left failed us.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  21. Meowy

    If you would like to know exactly what it is the President will have more flexibility regarding, for which he is referring to, search the internet for the terms “Obama”, “missile defense”, and “Russia” and read more about it. It is very concerning to me, what information it is that he wishes to give to Russia.

    Another interesting thing that you may want to search for on the internet is the status of H.J.RES.17.

    March 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  22. Dixon

    You blind fools. You don't even care what this can mean. You won't even try to understand. You are even too dumb to understand when pictures are drawn for you.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  23. Steven

    I'm sure you live off of government aid which is why you talk so much of health care and economy? The Money is not governments, it is the money of working people who receive weekly checks that get chunks taken out that the GOVERNMENT blows on people who stay at home and get fat. Men and women who leave our children alone to put food on the table, now you say we are doing well economically? – wow, in reality we are screwed economically, gas is on the rise again, when Mr. Bush was president there were plenty of jobs, the economy was not like the way it is now anyway, when gasoline was rising during Bush's presidency people took to the streets demanding something be done – where are those people now? Obama is a great president at letting gas prices get out of hand and nobody's saying anything? They are very quiet! Of course they should be quiet now as they no longer have to WORK as Obama's keeps extending the unemployment collection times instead of doing somethingto create JOBS.I have a friend that collects $ 500 a week and recently called him to work and told them they can not work , told me this with a big smile and still my friend tells me also give food stamps and medical insurance money for my rent. wow. I can easily manipulate the system and have the Gov pave my way but I like to work to provide to my family.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
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    April 4, 2012 at 1:25 am |
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