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Calmer tack with Russia
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is pushing a proposal for a Euro-Atlantic security pact. This has apparently been prompted by the NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, formerly Russia's sphere of influence; the U.S. plan to use sites in the Czech Republic and Poland for missile defense; and Russia's own wish to mend relations with the West after it invaded Georgia and recognized the independence of the two breakaway enclaves South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Mr. Medvedev's eyes are clearly set on the new U.S. administration to be led by President-elect Barack Obama. Hours after Mr. Obama's election as the next U.S. president, Mr. Medvedev threatened to deploy Iskander missiles (300- to 500-km range) in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania. He later said Russia could cancel the deployment if Mr. Obama abandoned the missile-shield plan in Europe. Mr. Obama has not yet made clear his stance on the issue. While the United States says the missile shield is a defense against "rogue states" such as Iran, Russia suspects that the shield is designed to destroy its strategic missiles.
Help for Russia came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a Russia-European Union summit in mid-November. He supported Mr. Medvedev's call for a new "security architecture," and both suggested that talks on the proposal be held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The French president also questioned the U.S. missile-shield plan, saying deployment "would bring nothing to security in Europe" and "complicate things."