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Russia Backs UN-Controlled Space Shield to Protect Earth

Russia could rekindle missile defense relations with the United States by proposing a shield to defend Earth from stray comets, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

The new program, codenamed "Strategic Earth Defense" and backed by Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, won acclaim from President Dmitry Medvedev, several unidentified diplomats told the daily.

The proposal — reminiscent of the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative, commonly known as "Star Wars" — envisages a global air, missile and space defense system capable of intercepting an array of objects, from military rockets to comets and asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

The system is to be controlled by the United Nations, not national governments — which would give Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, leverage in its operations.

The proposal capitalizes on America's fondness for "saving the world" and doing such a task together with Russia, one diplomat said.

"There's a prototype for this in American culture," he said. "Just think of the [1998] movie 'Armageddon,' in which Bruce Willis saves Earth together with Lev Andropov, a Russian who goofs around the universe with a monkey wrench and a bottle of vodka."

It remained unclear when the proposal would be put forward. A global affairs analyst said it is unlikely to make Washington drop its current plans for a missile defense shield near Russia. The United States says that shield is to defend against conceivable attacks from the Middle East, but Moscow views it as a potential threat.

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