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Russia's response to US missile defense shield shift

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Charles Dharapak/AP

(Read caption) President Barack Obama speaks about the US missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland on Thursday in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

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MOSCOW – President Barack Obama's decision to shelve plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe could be seen as a major concession to Moscow. But given years of vehement opposition to the controversial plan, Russian reaction to the move appears surprisingly lukewarm.

So what does it mean for US-Russia relations?

There are indications that Russia support tougher sanctions on Iran, and fresh START talks, as well as more cooperation with the war in Afghanistan. The Kremlin also expects the US to back off on expanding NATO, say Russian analysts.

"We see this as a pragmatic decision," says Pavel Zolotaryov, deputy director of the official Institute of USA-Canada Studies, suggesting that internal US factors mainly account for Mr. Obama's choice. "Obama's sober approach is understandable, given the [economic] crisis, because this project would have given nothing but trouble."

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