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Ukraine not ready for missile shield placement - president

RIA Novosti

21/03/2007 17:03 KIEV, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine should not make any hasty decisions on the placement of a missile shield on its territory until a common global approach to this issue has been developed, President Viktor Yushchenko said Wednesday.

Ukraine's parliament, the Supreme Rada, is planning to hear a situation report by the Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry about the possible deployment of missile-defense systems on Ukrainian soil.

"This is an issue that involves more than just one particular state," Yushchenko said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti. "We are speaking about global processes that would affect any country regardless of its geographical location."

"It is a multi-layered discussion and every layer must be discussed," the Ukrainian president said. "That is why I do not want Ukraine to rush into an agreement on missile shield deployment."

He said the United States and Russia should be the main participants in the discussion because both countries are actively developing missile-defense systems and are planning to deploy them in Europe.

Washington announced in January that it would build a radar installation in the Czech Republic and a missile interceptor base in Poland in the next five years to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea.

Moscow has strongly opposed the U.S. plans, saying the missile shield threatened Russia's national security and pledged to take adequate measures to counter the U.S. move.

Russian and U.S. experts have agreed to discuss Washington's missile defense plans in Central Europe on the sidelines of a NATO-Russia Council meeting in April.

Yushchenko said the second stage of the discussion on the missile shield should involve the development of a common global approach to the issue because it directly affects collective security.

"In the future, national security policies will be developed on the basis of a regional or global approach to collective security," Yushchenko said, adding that it is the most reasonable answer to all controversial security issues.

It is also important to consider the positions taken by Poland and the Czech Republic, the two countries that were initially approached by the U.S. with missile shield placement proposals.

Both countries, which are former Central European Soviet allies and now members of the European Union and NATO, reaffirmed in February their willingness to allow the U.S. to place elements of its missile shield on its territory.

Yushchenko also said that Ukraine is willing to consider all views on the issue and give a response that would be most appropriate in line with the country's national interests.

"It is important that our neighbors understand this nuance - it is a sovereign right of any nation to form its sovereign defense and security policy," Yushchenko said.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State said Ukraine was one of the countries with whom Washington was cooperating on the missile shield, but people in the former Soviet nation, particularly in the pro-Russian east of the country, have opposed any involvement.

However, Yushchenko reiterated Wednesday that an effective European or global missile-defense network should be developed in the future to guarantee the protection of nations against "unsanctioned actions" or "uncontrolled missile threats."

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