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Ukraine's Rada concerned over missile shield placement in Europe

RIA Novosti

22/03/2007 13:30 KIEV, March 22 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's parliament issued a statement Thursday expressing concerns over the possible deployment of U.S. missile defense elements in Central 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.

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.

"The implementation of these plans threatens Ukraine's national security," the Supreme Rada said in a statement, which was supported by 245 parliament members.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State said Ukraine was one of the countries with which 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.

The parliament said U.S. plans "caused massive protests in other countries," and asked the government to express its position to the UN Security Council and governments of interested countries.

Moscow has also 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.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told RIA Novosti Wednesday that the decision to place a missile shield "is a sovereign right of any nation to form its sovereign defense and security policy."

Yushchenko said 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."

He said Ukraine should not make any hasty decisions on the placement of a missile shield on its territory until a common global approach to the issue has been developed.

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