KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine has begun talks with the United States on the possibility of Washington using information gathered by its radars, Interfax Ukraine cited Kiev’s envoy as saying on Thursday.
The news is likely to irk Russia, which is highly sensitive to any hint of U.S. military partnership with former Soviet republics.
Washington last week denied it wanted to station U.S. radar systems in Ukraine, after President Barack Obama scrapped a planned missile shield based in central Europe.
But the U.S. State Department said countries such as Ukraine could contribute early warning information.
“This issue is in the process of working discussions. It is still at a beginning stage,” Interfax cited the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oleh Shamshur, as saying. He added previous Ukrainian leaders had backed this idea.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said it had no comment.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday he was concerned at the prospect of U.S. talks on missile defense with countries that are not part of the NATO military alliance.
Shamshur suggested Russia had missed its chance to use information from Ukrainian radars. Russia canceled a post-Soviet radar data sharing deal last year, complaining the installations in Ukraine were outdated.
“We are also talking about the question of using our defense radars across Ukraine’s territory, which, as you all know, Russia has declined to use,” Shamshur was cited as saying.
Writing by Sabina Zawadzki, editing by Michael Stott