Among Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s first acts, showing Russia how “flexible” America is. The Obama government has canceled a Europe missile defense program that the Russians never did like.

The United States has effectively canceled the final phase of a Europe-based missile defense system that was fiercely opposed by Russia and cited repeatedly by the Kremlin as a major obstacle to cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and other issues.

Russian officials here have so far declined to comment on the announcement, which was made in Washington on Friday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as part of a plan to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors to counter North Korea. The cancellation of some European-based defenses will allow resources to be shifted to protect against North Korea.

Russian leaders on several occasions used meetings with President Obama to press their complaints about the missile defense program. At one such meeting, in South Korea last March, Mr. Obama was heard on a live microphone telling the outgoing Russian president Dmitri A. Medvedev in a private aside that he would have “more flexibility” to negotiate on missile defense after the November presidential election in November.

The Obama government claims that Russia’s objections played no role in the decision. But this government lies, a lot.

Having Hagel make the call official puts a bi-partisan stamp on what is a far-left policy. For a poor decision, Obama has played it pretty well. It won’t hurt his job approval, both because he has a Republican giving him cover, and because most Americans have no idea what this story is even about.