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15 Oct, 2009 16:18

Ukrainian radars may find place in US missile shield

Ukraine may still play a part in the US antimissile system, if Americans choose to incorporate one of Ukraine’s radars. The idea is currently under consideration, said the Ukrainian ambassador to Washington.

Ukraine’s possible participation is now in the early stages of negotiation, Oleg Shamshur said at a media briefing on Thursday. He added that this would be logical, since the US and Russia will probably join forces on developing a joint ABM system and it would benefit Ukrainian defense companies.

In early October, Alexander Vershbow, US assistant secretary of defense for international security, hinted that Ukraine may have a place in the antimissile shield structure by hosting a radar base.

The announcement made headlines in the Ukrainian media. Some analysts and politicians were quick to point out that the Ukrainian constitution forbids hosting foreign military facilities.

“The Ukrainian constitution does not provide for any military bases or any representatives of military forces of other foreign states in Ukraine,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pyotr Poroshenko.

President Viktor Yushchenko was quick to say that the US never made any suggestions along those lines.

Now it appears that rather than hosting an American radar base, Ukraine might offer one it already has to become part of the system. It currently possesses two long-range radars, one in the capital of Crimea, Sevastopol, and another one in the city of Mukachevo in western Ukraine. They were used by Russia, but in February 2008 the lease contract was terminated, as Russia had built a replacement on its own territory.

Commenting on Thursday’s news, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was concerned by information that a non-NATO member could be involved in the proposed antimissile system.

“In a situation where issues of strategic stability should be considered in a partnership spirit, such concerns are not welcomed, so we call all parties to these negotiations to maintain maximum responsibility to such contacts and especially public statements,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

“Just to start talking on some technical and tactical cooperation I think might be counterproductive, especially when there is a tendency to politicize these things, to make them public,” he told RT. “At some point this kind of process may lead to misunderstandings, to excessive concerns, and this has to be avoided.”