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Missile shield shift opens common ground for Russia and US

Strategists say that President Barack Obama's decision to scrap a controversial missile shield for Eastern Europe has mollified Russia, and could open the door for cooperation against common nuclear threats.

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After years squabbling over how the US could build an effective missile defense shield for Europe without scaring or offending Moscow, a growing number of experts suggest there may be an obvious way to square that circle: bring the Russians in and make them partners in a broad multi-national project.

President Barack Obama's decision in September to shelve Bush-era plans to deploy strategic anti-missile interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic has greatly mollified Moscow and opened a window of opportunity that might be used to change the whole security paradigm in Europe, some Russian experts say. They suggest it's an idea whose time has come, and one that dovetails neatly with Mr. Obama's embrace of the "Global Zero" campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons. Even though the US intends to go ahead with a toned-down missile shield for Eastern Europe, the plan to station tactical SM-3 anti-missile systems does not pose a threat to Russia's aging nuclear missile deterrent, and thus – at least for the moment – Moscow is unperturbed.

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