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Ukraine, Russia Discussing Shared Missile Defense System

Russian space forces commander Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko on Tuesday said his nation and Ukraine are in discussions on a potential collaborative program to field ballistic missile defense technology, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, Feb. 28).

"We are currently in talks with the Ukrainian side on jointly resolving missile defense objectives," the military commander said without providing any other specifics.

However, Moscow has no interest in renewing its usage of Ukraine's "obsolete" radars at Sevastopol and Mukacheve, he said (RIA Novosti, Oct. 4).

In February, former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko said the country was interested in participating in NATO's planned missile defense architecture even though Ukraine is not a member of the alliance. Ohryzko said the radar stations at Mukacheve and Sevastopol could be his government's contribution to the missile shield, according to previous reports.

"These radar stations were built in the Soviet period. They cannot be used against Russia because they look the other way," ITAR-Tass reported quoted Ostapenko as saying.

"These are totally obsolete radar stations, and it would be senseless to restore them," the general said (ITAR-Tass, Oct. 4).

Moscow has voiced repeated worries that NATO's missile shield would be secretly aimed at undermining Russian strategic nuclear forces.

Ostapenko said an early warning radar system based near Kaliningrad would be tested before 2011 is over, Interfax reported (see GSN, March 25).

"We plan to put this station into a trial run before the end of the year, though it was put on the air just a year ago," he said.

A determination is in the works on whether a Lekhtusi-based radar station not far from St. Petersburg should also begin operating, Ostapenko said.

"The station is fully operational. In order for it to enter service, a number of documents need to be prepared," he said (Interfax, Oct. 4).

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