Kiev Ready For Missile Shield Talks

KIEV -- Ukraine said Saturday that it was ready to make its missile-warning systems available for Western countries after Russia announced that it was pulling out of a long-term cooperation agreement involving them.

A ministry statement said Russia's abrogation earlier this year of an agreement involving two tracking stations allowed Ukraine to cooperate with other countries on missile-warning systems and satellite tracking.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko issued a decree last week putting an end to Ukraine's participation in the accord in view of Russia's own abrogation of the deal.

A top Ukrainian security official, meanwhile, on Saturday discounted any notion of a separatist rebellion in Crimea as President Viktor Yushchenko proposed Kremlin talks on the issue of the Russian fleet based there.

Yushchenko enraged Moscow this week by ordering restrictions on the movement of ships in the Black Sea Fleet, based in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Russia's military vowed to ignore the rules, saying the fleet answered only to Russia's president.

Valentin Nalivaichenko, acting chairman of Ukraine's SBU security service, said latent nationalism in Crimea could not be compared with South Ossetia's longstanding rebellion, which led to the conflict between Georgia and Russia.

"I am certain that such a scenario is not possible in Ukraine," he told the weekly Zerkalo Nedeli.

Reuters, MT