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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yushchenko Shows Interest in Missile Shield

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko suggested in an interview published Monday that Ukraine might be interested in one day joining a Russian plan for a joint missile defense system with the United States and Europe.

"Let me, on behalf of the Ukrainian state, say that we view positively any system which would broaden the possibilities of collective security," Yushchenko told Novaya Gazeta.

"We understand that at a specific time and in a specific format, Ukraine's possibilities will, naturally, be taken into account," Yushchenko said. "But talks now are taking place at another level."

President Vladimir Putin, who wants to prevent elements of any U.S. missile defense system from being deployed in the Czech Republic and Poland, proposed last week the creation of an international missile defense system instead.

Putin told U.S. President George W. Bush at a meeting last week that the joint system could instead use radar sites in southern Russia and in Azerbaijan to detect missile launches. He invited all European nations to join.

Putin has said U.S. plans to deploy a radar system in the Czech Republic and missiles in Poland has nothing to do with the formal aim of the missile shield -- protecting the West from missile attacks from states like Iran.

The United States has not asked Ukraine to play any role in its proposed plan.

Yushchenko said the issue of security for Ukraine, Russia and Europe at large would eventually come under discussion.

"We need to draw up a model of security which would meet the needs of all, or most, of those taking part in the process," Yushchenko said.

Putin, who describes U.S. missile defense plans in Europe as a threat to Russia's security and a violation of a strategic balance of forces, initially proposed using the Soviet-built Gabala facility in Azerbaijan, which Russia leases. He broadened his proposals to include European states at the talks with Bush.