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Ukraine says it wants a missile shield to protect against Russian aggression


Ukraine calls on the NATO to give her missile shield against Russia aggression
Ukraine calls on the NATO to give her missile shield against Russia aggression
MOSCOW – Ukraine wants a nuclear missile shield, according to the country’s security chief, something that would almost certainly provoke an aggressive response from Russia.
Ukraine is “rebuilding our missile shield, the main task of which is to defend against aggression from Russia,” Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said Wednesday in an interview published Wednesday, May 20th by Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.
Turchynov explained that the new objective is part of a play to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses through “economic, political and military measures” as Kiev continues to fight a war against pro-Moscow separatists in the east. It also comes during a period in which Russia has said that it could deploy nuclear weapons to the recently annexed territory of Crimea. He called on “all leading countries” to help Ukraine defend itself against the potential nuclear threat from Russia through “interaction and systemic coordination.”
But if Ukraine is asking to host Western missile defense systems on its soil, the West isn’t necessarily going to go along.
“There’s no offer or plan to place U.S. or NATO ballistic missile defense systems in Ukraine. I don’t think we’re exactly sure what they’re referring to,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a briefing Wednesday when asked about Turchynov’s comments. “All existing and planned elements are on NATO territory, for example. And certainly, NATO missile defense is not directed against Russia, but against threats from the Middle East.”
When President Obama took office, he scrapped plans to build a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, replacing them with a phased program to deploy defensive systems in Poland and Romania.
Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the start of hostilities in eastern Ukraine last year, Poland and the Baltic states have called on NATO to focus its anti-ballistic missile defense system against Russia. Poland also announced last month that it would spend $8 million on missile defense and military helicopters.
It is difficult to see how cash-strapped Ukraine could procure a similar missile shield if it were not provided by the West.
The subject of missile defense in Ukraine is fraught with competing emotions of pride and regret. Ukraine once held the world’s third-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, but dismantled it and joined the ranks of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after the breakup of the Soviet Union, in exchange for security assurances from both Russia and the West.
Those assurances were written in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which Ukraine called upon repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, after Russia annexed Crimea and the West did little to intervene beyond threats and later by imposing sanctions. Ukrainian policy experts and government advisers have since opined that if Ukraine had maintained even part of its nuclear arsenal, Russia would never have annexed Crimea or supported an uprising of pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.