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Russia 'scraps plans' for missile deployment near Poland

Russia has scrapped a plan to deploy missiles in a region near Poland after President Barack Obama dumped the Bush-era plan for a US missile defense in Eastern Europe, a Russian deputy defence minister said today.

Vladimir Popovkin told Ekho Moskvy radio that Obama's move has made the deployment of Iskander short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region unnecessary.

"Reason has prevailed over ambitions," Popovkin said. "Naturally, we will cancel countermeasures which Russia has planned in response, such as the (planned) deployment of Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region."

Russia staunchly opposed the Bush administration's plan to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a related radar in the Czech Republic and threatened to respond by deploying the Iskander missiles in its westernmost Baltic Sea region.

Obama's decision to scrap the plan was based largely on a new US intelligence assessment that Iran's effort to build a nuclear-capable long-range missile would take three to five years longer than originally thought, US officials said.

Obama is to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the United Nations and the Group of 20 economic summit in the coming week.

Medvedev hailed Obama's decision as a "responsible move," but Russian officials have given no indication yet that Moscow could edge closer to the US stance on Iran and help raise pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.