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U.S. president-elect Barack Obama may change the Bush administration's plans
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama may change the Bush administration's plans to deploy elements of a U.S. missile defense shield in Central Europe, a high-ranking Russian senator said Wednesday.

"I do not rule out that a number of factors could make Obama think about the expediency of an active promotion of plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Europe," Vasily Likhachyov, a deputy chairman of the Federation Council's international affairs committee, said.

The U.S. plans to deploy a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, saying it needs the Central European shield to protect against attacks by "rogue states" such as Iran.

The plans are fiercely opposed by Russia, which sees the missile shield as a threat to its national security and the international system of nuclear deterrence.

Likhachyov said criticism of Washington's intentions by Polish and Czech MPs, as well as Russia's opposition, could be among the factors that may affect the new U.S. administration's attitude to the shield.

He also said he believed bilateral relations between Russia and the U.S. would develop "pragmatically" under Obama.

Earlier today, another Russian senator, the chairman of the Federation Council's defense and security committee, Viktor Ozerov, said Obama's victory was unlikely to affect U.S. plans for the missile shield.

"I think the continuity of U.S. foreign policy will be preserved," Ozerov said, adding that Washington had already approved the plans and allocated funds for the shield.

The Federation Council is Russia's upper house of parliament.


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