Will the European Union need Ukrainian radar stations?


It seems that in response to denouncing the agreement with Ukraine on use of radar stations in Mukachevo and Sevastopol by Russia, Kiev is evidently going to offer its radar stations to the European Union. It is possible to draw this conclusion from the statement released by General Director of the National Space Agency (NSA) Yury Alexeev.

Alexeev said, “These stations represent one of the elements of a layered antimissile defense system. We are currently considering offering our services to Europe that tries to create its security system. Probably this will be interesting for Europe.” Alexeev adds that capabilities of the Ukrainian radar stations have already been highly appreciated by Western specialists, for example, by specialists of the US.

Alexeev stressed, “To continue their operation, we will modernize them and we have a vision of a way of their modernization.” He emphasized that European specialists already confirmed their interest in joint modernization of infrastructure of the national center for control and tests of space means in Yevpatoria. Commenting on the withdrawal of Moscow from the agreement with the Ukraine on the early warning system, Alexeev said that “the Russians were a little bit too hasty.”

Meanwhile, the actions of Russians were well considered and, of course, they were not hasty. It was the weak technological base and expensiveness of modernization that became the main reasons for denouncing the agreements on radar stations by Russia although Russia paid $1.3 million annually for operation of the radars in due manner.

The agreement between Russia and Ukraine on early warning system components was signed on February 28 of 1997. The agreement determined the procedure of functioning of radar stations Mukachevo and Sevastopol. The explanatory note to the bill on denouncing of the agreement on radar stations remarked that service life of these nodes expired back in 2005 and now their contribution to the fulfillment of early warning tasks was minimal. The document adds, “The Ukraine has practically alienated itself from the fulfillment of its obligations for maintenance of permanent readiness of Mukachevo and Sevastopol nodes.” Besides, objects in Ukraine are maintained by civilian staff now and that is why the Russian Defense Minister believes that they cannot be on normal combat duty. The Russian military also say that intensity and duration of the jamming impact on the Sevastopol radar have grown and unauthorized switching off of the Mukachevo radar continues. The Russian Defense Ministry also states claims against provision of secrecy at Ukrainian radar stations.

According to Federation Council Chair, Sergei Mironov, there is no political motivation in the decision on denouncing it.

Mironov says, “There is no policy there but common sense, expedience and protection of national security.” Along with this, Deputy Defense Minister of Russia, Nikolai Pankov, thinks in a different way. He says that decision on denouncing the agreement on radars is also a political step: “If you wish, this is our response to the steps of Ukrainian authorities for acceleration of entrance of the country into NATO.”

The question is if Ukrainian radar stations are necessary for NATO, Europe or the US? They are probably not necessary. Americans build their radar stations and antimissile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Europe does not have such a system and this means that it does not need the radar stations as such because the radar stations in Ukraine have been organically fitted into the early warning system of Russia. It is not clear how it is possible to fit them into the European structure. Many experts say in Russian mass media that the value of ground early warning stations without the space component in the form of a satellite system that provides for the detection of ballistic missiles after the launch is very low. Besides, Ukrainian nodes of the early warring system are really hopelessly outmoded and without expenditures on modernization, the creation of a satellite cluster and information processing center they can hardly be operated according to their purpose in the future.