Russia cancels early-warning radar deal with Ukraine

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Moscow, Jan 30 (UNI) Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, today voted to cancel an agreement with the former Soviet republic of Ukraine on early-warning and space monitoring systems, citing inadequate technical support by Ukraine for radar facilities.

The State Duma, lower house, last Friday had voted to scrap the agreement. Federation Council chairman Sergei Mironov said the decision was not politically motivated.

''There is no politics in our decision - only common sense, expediency and national security considerations,'' Mironov said commenting on the upper house decision.

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Nikolai Pankov said Russia would not lose its position in the region after the termination of the agreement with Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement on leasing the Mukachevo and Sevastopol early warning stations to Russia in February 1997.

The deal stipulated that Russia would cover all operating costs, totalling 4 million dollars per year, while Ukraine would be responsible for the maintenance of the facilities.

Pankov said previously Ukraine had practically stopped fulfilling its obligations under the agreement with a view to its subsequent integration into NATO.

Russia had launched a programme for the development of Russian Space Forces, which included building and using early-warning radars on its own territory.

Currently, it leases ground-based radar stations in Sevastopol and Mukachevo in Ukraine, Baranovichi in Belarus, Balkhash in Kazakhstan and Gabala in Azerbaijan.

It also has radars on its own territory in Murmansk (Arctic northwest), Pechora (northwest Urals), and Irkutsk (east Siberia).

Russian Space Forces' Commander Col. Genneral Vladimir Popovkin told RIA Novosti news agency a new Voronezh-type radar in Lekhtusi, Leningrad Region, would go into operation later this year.

AnotherVoronezh-type radar is being built in Armavir in southwest Russia and is expected to be put into service in 2009. Mr Pankov said the addition of new radars would provide comprehensive and credible early warning coverage for Russia's entire territory.

UNI XC ARB AS1756

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