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9 Oct, 2009 10:32

US missiles get closer to Russia’s borders?

The US could station parts of its new missile defense system in Ukraine. US Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow outlined the plan in the Defense News journal.

Moscow has praised Obama’s decision to scrap missile defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic. But according to Vershbow, Russia’s “euphoria”, as he put it, was premature, as the new plan could see even more rockets and radars close to its borders.

According to Defense News website, referring to Vershbow’s aide, the US administration has included Ukraine in the list of countries where the radar will possibly be placed in the framework of America’s new anti-missile defense plan. It is reported that Ukraine’s high officials expressed interest in that opportunity.

However, from this publication it remains unknown whether Vershbow was expressing the Obama administration’s position or his own view.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told reporters on Friday that Ukraine has received no proposals from the United States over deploying US missile defense components in its territory.

“I do not want any fuss about this. The Ukrainian side has received no proposals,” Yushchenko said commenting on Alexander Vershbow’s statement.

Russia and the United States will hold missile defense talks on October 12 in Moscow, and the latter is keen to get more details on the issue:

“We hope to receive from the United States full and detailed information concerning the new approaches of the US administration towards the formation of their missile defense system,” the Russian Foreign Ministry representative said on Friday.

The Russian negotiators will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, while the US delegation will be headed by Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher.

Vershbow’s words “extravagant” – Russia

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he was surprised by the statement by the US Assistant Secretary of Defense, calling it “extravagant and rather unexpected”. He also added that from Vershbow, “one can hear statements all the time that provoke more questions than they give answers.”

Lavrov said that during the consultations with American partners, Russia wants to get a clear vision of what the US means by the new defense plan they have decided to build.

“We want to obtain absolute clarity from the American partners, during consultations for assessing the risks of missile proliferation, of what our American colleagues actually mean by the new scheme they have devised instead of the third launch site,” the minister said.

“We welcome the abandonment of the plan to deploy a third launch site in Europe, because it was definitely a risk for the Russian Federation, in our clear estimate,” Lavrov added.

“Therefore, we see this step by the Obama administration as positive. It creates a good environment for a more constructive dialogue on nonproliferation issues. But we want to get a clear and complete account on this issue from our American partners,” the Russian Foreign minister noted.

Foreign military bases contrary to Ukraine’s constitution

Kiev is seeking to strengthen its ties with the US and join NATO. However, Ukraine has never said it wanted the US anti-missile shield to be located on its territory.

“Ukraine's Constitution does not envisage the presence of any military bases or representatives of armed forces of any state on its territory. This concerns cooperation in missile defense. I believe this is unconstitutional,” Ukraine's new Foreign Minister Pyotr Poroshenko said commenting on the issue.

President Viktor Yushchenko earlier stated that the country is ready to provide international guarantees of not locating nuclear weapons on its territory in case it gets membership in the Alliance.

He also stressed that the country’s Constitution guarantees no foreign military base is to be placed on Ukraine’s territory.

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