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US Missile Shield In Ukraine And Caucasus Could Spark Regional Crisis

Lieutenant General Henry Obering, who oversees the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, did not specify which country in the Caucasus might be selected as a possible site for an anti-missile radar, but a senior Russian analyst suggested Friday that Georgia would be the most likely site.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Mar 05, 2007
Including Ukraine and the Caucasus nations into a U.S. air-defense system could cause another internal political crisis in these countries, a senior Russian MP said Friday. A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that the United States "would like to place a radar base in the Caucasus" amid earlier reports of plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which have further strained relations between the U.S. and Russia.

Akhmed Bilanov, first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, told RIA Novosti that the events that occurred in the Crimea last year and the subsequent protests against Ukrainian-U.S. military exercises clearly demonstrated that "Ukrainian society was divided on the issue of NATO."

He said any further pressure would only exacerbate the situation in these countries, and possibly in the entire region.

"Needless to say, this situation will not be of any benefit to the United States, quite the contrary, it would cause additional problems and make the U.S. security system more vulnerable," Bilanov said.

Russia, which has been anxious about NATO bases that have been deployed in former Communist-bloc countries and ex-Soviet republics, has blasted the plans to deploy anti-missile systems in Central Europe as a national security threat and a destabilizing factor for Europe.

The deployment of a U.S. anti-missile radar system in the Caucasus would not affect Russia's defense capabilities, but the country could respond to the move nevertheless, the Russian Air Force commander said earlier on Friday.

Vladimir Mikhailov said Russia was capable of offering an adequate response to the deployment.

Washington said the defense system was designed to counter possible strikes from North Korea and Iran, which are involved in long-running disputes with the international community over their nuclear programs.

Lieutenant General Henry Obering, who oversees the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, did not specify which country in the Caucasus might be selected as a possible site for an anti-missile radar, but a senior Russian analyst suggested Friday that Georgia would be the most likely site.

"The most convenient territory [for the radar], in political terms, is currently Georgia, which has not as yet raised objections to any U.S. proposals," said Leonid Ivashov, deputy head of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems think tank. "I believe the Americans could station a radar there."

But he said that deployment in Azerbaijan was also a possibility.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in Munich last month that Georgia could become a candidate to join the alliance in 2009 if it successfully carried out the necessary military reforms of its Armed Forces.

The Georgian Defense Ministry had no comment on the matter Friday.

Azerbaijan said Washington had not yet approached it with any proposals.

Ivashov also said Russia would have to monitor missile systems in the Caucasus to ensure its security.

earlier related report
US Georgia never discussed radar deployment in Caucasus
Tbilisi(RIA Novosti) Mar 05, 2007 The U.S. and Georgia have never discussed the possible deployment of an American missile defense radar on Georgian territory, a deputy Georgian foreign minister said Friday.

A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that the United States "would like to place a radar base in the Caucasus" amid earlier reports of plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which have further strained relations between the U.S. and Russia.

"That issue is not on today's agenda of Georgian-American relations. And it has never been raised," deputy PM Georgy Mandzhgaladze told the Novosti-Georgia news agency.

The head of the Georgian parliament's external relations committee, Konstantin Gabashvili, also denied speculation that American radar could be deployed in Georgia.

Commenting on the Pentagon official's Thursday statements, Gabashvili said the talk was not about Georgia.

On February 27, Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili refuted some Russian media reports that the U.S. had proposed deploying elements of the American missile defense system in Georgia.

"There was no such request, and we have not received any official statements on this issue," Bezhuashvili said then.

Russia, which has been anxious about NATO bases that have appeared in former Communist-bloc countries and ex-Soviet republics, has blasted plans to deploy anti-missile systems in Central Europe as a national security threat and a destabilizing factor for Europe.

Washington said the defenses would be designed to counter possible strikes from North Korea and Iran, which are involved in long-running disputes with the international community over their nuclear programs.

Lieutenant General Henry Obering, who oversees the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, did not specify which country in the Caucasus might be selected as a possible site for an anti-missile radar.

A senior Russian analyst suggested Friday that Georgia would be the most likely site.

"The most convenient, in political terms, territory [for the radar] today is Georgia, which has not objected to a single U.S. proposal," said Leonid Ivashov, deputy head of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems think tank. "I believe the Americans could place a radar there."

But he said that a deployment in Azerbaijan was also a possibility.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in Munich earlier that Georgia could become a candidate to join the alliance in 2009 if it successfully carried out the reforms of its Armed Forces.

Source: RIA Novosti

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US Missile Shield Would Include Caucasus-Based Radar
Brussels (AFP) Mar 01, 2007
US plans to extend a missile defence system into Europe, which have been met with hostility by Russia, include a radar system based in the Caucasus, the head of the US missile agency said Thursday. The "forward deployable radar" would provide an "early acquisition track" on any hostile missile for a bigger radar system based in the Czech Republic, US Air Force Lieutenant General Henry Obering said.







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