I have long been of the opinion that Vladimir Putin is getting a bum rap - even from one pundits whose writing I have enjoyed. In this case, we have another example.
A number of people Russia are understandably not thrilled with the notion of America gaining more influence in Eastern Europe. This mean that Putin has to play to Russian public opinion to a degree. That said, Putin seems mature enough to understand that due to the actions of the Soviet Union, Russia's not exactly going to be on the best of terms with Eastern Europe.
So, while he has opposed the idea of a missile shield, he came up with a counter-offer: Install a radar in Azerbaijan. Putin also suggested the use of sea-based interceptors from Aegis vessels. While I'm no anti-air warfare expert, the Baltic and Med don't seem to offer quite the geometry that a land-based system in Poland would provide.
I think in this case, a compromise is in order. The US wants a land-based system and radar in Europe, Putin wants the radar in Azerbaijan and a sea-based system on American warships. My modest proposal is that we build both radars and take approaches to deploying interceptors. Putin will be able to say that he influenced the American missile defense system, Bush can say he kept his word to Poland and the Czech Republic, and we have even better capability top defend our NATO allies if Iran does something friggin' stupid.
Note to conservatives: This is how a disagreement should be handled - in a civil tone, and with efforts to understand and address the concerns of the other party.