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'New Europe' urges West to rethink Russian ties

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The strength of Polish feeling against Russia is measured by the quick completion of a US missile defense pact last week, after 18 months of wrangling in Warsaw and Washington. While the US has stoutly argued that the missiles were meant as a shield against rogue attacks from Iran, their strategic value here has apparently shifted. Polish opposition to hosting 10 proposed missile silos dropped by 30 percent in the week after Russia's military move in Georgia, according to polls in Warsaw.

"The events in the Caucasus show clearly that such security guarantees are indispensable," said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Ukrainian officials now say they encourage talks with the US on a similar shield. The suggestion over the weekend came despite Russian deputy military chief Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn's warning that Poland's missile shield would expose it to a Russian attack. "Poland, by deploying ... is exposing itself to a strike – 100 percent," said General Nogovitsyn.

In recent years "new" Europe has tussled with "old," with Germany in particular, over NATO expansion for Georgia – most recently in April at the alliance summit in Bucharest, Romania, where Berlin opposed it. Former Soviet states now in NATO argue that Western ideas about liberal reform in Russia were naive at best and self-serving at worst: They see Vladimir Putin's Russia as disparaging civil society, reverting to brute strength with small nations, seeking empire, and exploiting divisions inside Europe, and between Europe and the US. Russia is not a 'status quo' power under Mr. Putin, they say, but rather willing to change principles in pursuit of greatness.

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