Obama likely to make concessions to Russia but would expect reciprocity

A high-profile Russian analyst has predicted that, if re-elected for a second term this month, U.S. President Barack Obama will be prepared to keep his word to become more flexible in talks with Russia on the NATO European missile defense issue but that he will expect concessions from Moscow in return.

But in any case, Obama would not soften his stance on the issue before spring, Gleb Pavlovsky told Interfax during a reception in connection with the American presidential election at the Moscow residence of the U.S. ambassador to Russia on Tuesday.

"Barack Obama will keep his word and will press for flexibility on the part of Moscow, but Moscow isn't in a very flexible mood now. Therefore, there will be some friction. He promised flexibility, not unilateral concessions," Pavlovsky said.

Asked whether he expected that the potential second Obama administration would be able to give Russia legal guarantees that the planned European missile defense would not be a shield against the Russian strategic nuclear forces, guarantees that Moscow is insisting on, the analyst said: "With diplomatic subterfuges, one can do anything one wants. It's a matter of giving one thing the name of another."

However, in any event, "if Obama stays on, changes, maybe sharp changes, won't start before spring," Pavlovsky said.

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