Russia Gives Up Ukraine Missile Radars, US Says Azerbaijan No Substitute For Poland
Moscow (AFP) July 12, 2007
Russia plans to abandon two missile defence bases in Ukraine, including one 700 kilometers (430 miles) away from a planned US radar site that Moscow opposes, a top Russian daily reported Thursday. The Russian government has submitted a draft bill to the lower house of parliament that would end an agreement under which Moscow finances the bases for around 1.3 million dollars (940,000 euros) per year, Vedomosti reported.
The bases, in Mukachevo near Ukraine's border with Slovakia and in Sevastopol in the south, would be replaced with radar stations in Russia, the report said, noting that both stations had experienced technical problems.
Ukraine, which technically owns the sites but which leases them to Moscow, offered the United States the right to use them in 2005, a Russian defence ministry official told the newspaper.
Russia claims that US plans for an anti-missile radar station in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland threaten its security, fuelling tensions between the former Cold War enemies in recent months.
The Ukraine bases are similar to one in Azerbaijan that Russian President Vladimir Putin recently suggested could be used by the United States in place of the bases in Central Europe, the report said.
earlier related report
"What we do not accept is that Gabala is a substitute for the plans that we're already pursuing with our Czech and Polish allies," said Stephen Mull, acting Assistant Secretary Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
"We believe that those installations are necessary for the security of our interests in Europe," he told reporters in reference to US plans for a radar station in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland.
"And both of those countries agree; and the entire NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance agrees," Mull added during a joint press conference with Azerbaijan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Araz Azimov.
"And so, we do not believe that the Gabala suggestion replaces that. We're still going to go ahead with the installation on those sites," Mull added.
Moscow and Washington are locked in a standoff over the US plans for a missile shield in Central Europe against possible aggression from rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea.
Russia says the plan threatens its security and has suggested that the United States and NATO use the Gabala radar station in ex-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border, instead of having a shield in central Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made the suggestion during his "lobster summit" with President George W. Bush at his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine earlier this month.
Bush called Putin's offer a "very constructive and bold strategic move," but insisted that "the Czech Republic and Poland need to be an integral part of this system."
Russia leases the Gabala installation in Azerbaijan, a former Soviet base used to monitor US military movements around the Indian Ocean region.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Tokyo (AFP) July 10, 2007
Japan said Tuesday it was technically unable to shoot down a missile fired over its territory at the United States, even as it moves to be legally able to do so. The admission came as the US military said it held its latest exercise with Japan aimed at improving coordination in the event of a missile launch. North Korea lobbed a missile over Japan's main island in 1998.
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