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US General To Reassure Ukraine On Missile Defence Shield

US Missile Defence Agency, Lieutenant General Henry Obering
by Staff Writers
Kiev (AFP) March 13, 2007
A top Pentagon official was to publicly reassure Ukrainians Wednesday about the United States' controversial plans to base elements of a missile defence shield in the region.

The head of the US Missile Defence Agency, Lieutenant General Henry Obering, was to brief journalists at the close of two days of talks with Ukrainian officials.

Obering was discussing "aspects of the US missile defence programme including proposed missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic," the US embassy said.

The visit is part of a public relations drive to allay concerns about the plans, which envisage setting up a network of radars and rockets that would intercept missiles aimed at the United States and its European allies.

The plans have prompted concern in the European Union, notably Germany, and have been sharply criticised by Russia.

There has been a mixed response in Ukraine, which lying east of Poland could find itself the arena of any such interception, said Ukrainian defence analyst Sergei Zgurets, of the Centre for Army Conversion and Disarmament Studies.

For the moment there is no suggestion that this former Soviet republic would itself host elements of the missile defence system.

Washington says the system is needed to defend against the growing missile capability of "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea and insists it would not be directed against its Cold War-era foe Moscow.

But Russia has long objected to US military expansion towards its borders and has threatened to target the proposed system with its missiles.

Some analysts have warned of a new Cold War following an impassioned speech criticising US dominance made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Munich last month.

Under the US proposals an underground missile silo would be built in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. A radar could also be placed in one of the Caucasus nations that lie close to Iran: Armenia, Azerbaijan or Georgia.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who is seeking membership of the NATO military alliance, has defended the Czech Republic and Poland's right to host the missile shield if they wish.

But the issue has again split Ukraine's elite as pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych is opposed to the plan, just as he has opposed joining NATO.

In order to win over such elites the United States will need to the United States will need to offer Ukraine inducements, said Zgurets.

"Ukraine doesn't feel an obligation before the United States. Ukraine needs other dividends" of a political and economic kind, said the analyst.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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South Korea Wants To Buy Second-Hand Patriot Missiles From Germany
Washington (UPI) March 13, 2007
South Korea this week started negotiations with Germany to buy second-hand, U.S.-built Patriot anti-ballistic missile interceptors.

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