Friday, October 16, 2009

Russia upset at U.S.-Ukraine missile defense talks

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Thursday it was worried about U.S. talks on the use of Ukrainian radar stations as part of a revised missile defense shield, a step that could hinder efforts to reset ties between the two Cold War foes. Russia, which is extremely sensitive to any hint of U.S. cooperation with former Soviet republics, initially welcomed President Barack Obama's scrapping of Bush-era plans for a missile defense system in central Europe. But Moscow has been irked by a U.S. statement that countries like Ukraine could contribute early warning information as part of the revised shield plan and reports that talks between the U.S. and Ukraine on the issue had already begun. "We feel concerned," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by RIA news agency as saying when asked about the possible use of Ukrainian radars by the United States.
Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, Oleh Shamshur, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that talks with Washington on the use of radar stations had already begun. "This issue is in the process of working discussions. It is still at a beginning stage," Interfax cited Shamshur as saying. He added that previous Ukrainian leaders had backed this idea.
Shamshur's comments appeared to relate to possible use by Washington of two Soviet-era early alert stations at Mukachevo in western Ukraine and one near the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol. Ukraine's foreign ministry declined to comment.
President Viktor Yushchenko was in Brussels on Thursday and his office had no immediate comment on Shamshur's remarks. But on October 12 Yushchenko said at a meeting of Commonwealth of Independent States leaders in Moldova that Ukraine was ready to contribute these two facilities to a collective world and European security system.