The Washington Times - December 4, 2008, 12:39PM

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that President-elect Barack Obama will make key concessions to the Kremlin when he takes office.

Mr. Putin, the former president who many expect to resume the position as Russia’s top leader within the next year or two, made the comments in, of all things, a “town hall meeting” in Moscow.

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The former KGB agent said that he sees “positive signals” from the incoming Obama administration, that they will back off two key issues: a push for Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO, and plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

“Both Ukraine and Georgia have been denied a Membership Action Plan,” Mr. Putin said, referring to the process by which nations become NATO members.

“We already hear at the level of experts, the people who are close to the President elect and the people around him, his aides, that there should be no hurry, that relations with Russia should not be jeopardised,” Mr. Putin said.

And on missile defense, Mr. Putin said that “we already hear that the practicability of deploying the third position of missile defense in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic should be considered once again.”