Russia Gives Up Ukraine Bases

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia plans to abandon two missile defence bases in Ukraine, including one 700 kilometres away from a planned US radar site that Moscow opposes, a top Russian daily reported yesterday.

The Russian government has submitted a draft bill to the lower house of parliament that would end an agreement under which Moscow finances the bases for around 1.3 million dollars per year, Vedomosti reported.

The bases, in Mukachevo near Ukraine’s border with Slovakia and in Sevastopol in the south, would be replaced with radar stations in Russia, the report said, noting that both stations had experienced technical problems.

Ukraine, which technically owns the sites but which leases them to Moscow, offered the United States the right to use them in 2005, a Russian defence ministry official told the newspaper.

Russia claims that US plans for an anti-missile radar station in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland threaten its security, fuelling tensions between the former Cold War enemies in recent months.

The Ukraine bases are similar to one in Azerbaijan that Russian President Vladimir Putin recently suggested could be used by the United States in place of the bases in Central Europe, the report said.

Source: The Times