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07KYIV546, UKRAINE: ENGAGING UKRAINE ON MISSILE DEFENSE

March 7, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV546 2007-03-07 09:14 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #0546/01 0660914
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 070914Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1458
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 000546 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR, VC, AND ISN; NSC FOR DAVID STEPHENS/JUDY 
ANSLEY; AND OSD/P ALSO FOR BRIAN GREEN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/01/2017 
TAGS: MARR PREL PL EZ UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: ENGAGING UKRAINE ON MISSILE DEFENSE 
PROPOSALS AND THE RUSSIAN REACTION 
 
REF: STATE 21640 
 
Classified By: Ambassador, Reason 1.4(b,d) 
 
 1. (C) Summary: We passed reftel points and Missile Defense 
Agency (MDA) Director LTG Obering's powerpoint presentation 
to MOD and MFA officials February 26-28.  Ambassador's 
February 21 conversation with Presidential adviser, 
preeminent Ukrainian strategic thinker, and former rocket 
scientist Volodymyr Horbulin provided a nuanced perspective 
on Ukrainian concerns of how the rollout of the proposed 
facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland play in Ukraine, 
even among sympathetic voices.  Horbulin suggested the debate 
would be carried out in both the technical and political 
field, but political factors and Russian sensitivities would 
be the primary challenges to meet; he personally did not see 
how the two proposed installations would increase U.S. 
security and looked forward to U.S. explanations.  PM 
Yanukovych has publicly expressed skepticism about the 
installations. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  The planned travel of a briefing team is 
timely and greatly appreciated by our Ukrainian counterparts. 
 The audience for LTG Obering's March 13-14 visit to Kyiv 
will include Horbulin, Defense Minister Hrytsenko, DFM 
Khadohiy, National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) 
Secretary Haiduk, deputy Presidential Secretariat Head 
 
SIPDIS 
Oleksandr Chaliy, and PM Foreign Policy Adviser Konstantin 
Gryshchenko, as well as selected parliamentary deputies and 
the press.  The Ukrainian NSDC's March 16 executive session, 
to be chaired by President Yushchenko with PM Yanukovych and 
all key security officials in attendance, is expected to 
examine and determine a Ukrainian position on the proposed 
missile defense installations.   End Summary and Comment. 
 
Interim information provided to MOD and MFA 
------------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) We delivered reftel points to First Deputy Defense 
Minister Leonid Polyakov and Ukrainian Military General Staff 
officials COL Sherstyuk, COL Somoylenko and Col Kozhevnykov 
February 26, and subsequently to MFA Arms Control Department 
Deputy Director Vasily Pokotilo, Counselor Oleksandr 
Bondarenko and Attache Marina Strogaya on February 28.  Both 
Polyakov and Pokotoilo welcomed the news that MDA Director 
LTG Obering and an MDA delegation would be visiting Kyiv 
March 13-14 to brief Ukrainian government officials further 
on U.S. plans to place missile defense facilities in Poland 
and Czech Republic.  Pokotilo asked in particular that 
Obering provide as much information as possible on the 
technical specifications of the planned systems.  Polyakov 
regretted that the visit could not be scheduled earlier and 
noted that MoD and Embassy Kyiv would need to shoulder the 
public affairs burden of lowering the temperature around the 
missile defense issue in the meantime. 
 
Horbulin's sympathetic but skeptical perspective 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
4. (C) Current Presidential Adviser Volodymyr Horbulin is 
probably Ukraine's best--some have said only--true strategic 
thinker.  As the powerful Secretary of the National Security 
and Defense Council (NSDC) from 1996-99, Horbulin was 
considered by many to be the second most powerful person in 
Ukraine during President Kuchma's first term.  Like Kuchma, 
Horbulin long worked at the Yuzhnoe/Pivdenne Missile 
Factory/Design Bureau which produced the Soviet Union's 
ICBMs; an engineer by training, Horbulin is the proverbial 
rocket scientist in addition to being an elder statesman 
actively in favor of Ukraine joining NATO.  Ambassador 
solicited Horbulin's views on the public controversy over the 
proposed missile defense installations February 21. 
 
5. (C) Horbulin stated that Ukrainian leaders lacked the 
objective information to form a position, gently criticizing 
the U.S. failure to consult with friends prior to making 
proposals public.  He said that he was personally very well 
versed in the U.S. national missile defense strategy and 
developments after the U.S. withdrew from the ABM treaty.  He 
noted that such plans initially had not foreseen placing 
facilities in central Europe, and European countries had 
ignored Russia's efforts to promote a possible European 
Missile Defense System under the name "EuroPro."  He 
personally could see the development of the Iranian nuclear 
program, combined with the medium range missiles Iran 
possessed, as posing a danger to US forces/installations in 
 
Europe. 
 
6. (C) Drawing on his design experience from Yuzhnoe, 
however, Horbulin dismissed claims that Iranian missiles 
could pose a threat to the U.S.; there was a 2600 km maximum 
range, "enough to bother Ms. Merkel in Berlin, but not Mr. 
Chirac in Paris."  Even though the "Russians continued to 
work with the Iranians all the time," both on the Bushehr 
reactor as well as in military
matters, Horbulin remained 
skeptical that Iranian missiles could reach the U.S.  "This 
is my key question for U.S. officials: I simply do not see 
how these two stations strengthen U.S. security." 
 
7. (C) Horbulin looked forward to precise technical 
information on the proposed installations in the Czech 
Republic and Poland.  In the absence of angles and radar 
coverage, Horbulin felt the Russians would have a point that 
the radar could have coverage of Russian territory all the 
way to Moscow, even though "rational" people understood a 
radar station was not an offensive weapon and that ten 
missile interceptors meant nothing in the face of the Russian 
strategic arsenal.  That said, the U.S. briefing delegation 
needed to be prepared to explain policy motivations, not just 
technical elements. 
 
8. (C) Horbulin emphasized, however, that the main thrust of 
the Russian argument was political, not technical, dating 
back to presumptions, right or wrong, that Gorbachev had 
received assurances during the 4 2 talks over German 
reunification that there would not be any strategic 
installations placed on the territory of former Warsaw Pact 
countries near the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. 
Horbulin felt that the Missile Defense proposal was the 
likely proximate trigger to Putin's outburst in Munich, 
foreshadowed by his similar comments about the proposed 
installations during his three hour press conference in 
Moscow prior to Wehrkunde. 
 
9. (C) Horbulin personally dismissed the main public concern 
voiced in Ukraine: that the fallout from a potential 
interceptor leaving a site in southern Poland to strike an 
Iranian missile would land in Ukraine.  "This thesis is 
absurd to those who understand ballistics and kinetic 
energy;" the pieces would likely fall in Poland instead.  But 
since politics would trump technical arguments, Horbulin 
suggested that the Poles and Czechs needed to engage their 
neighbors more actively as well as the U.S. in consultations. 
 (Note: We understand the Polish National Security Office 
plans to brief Ukrainian President Yushchenko during his 
March 7 visit to Poland.) 
 
PM Yanukovych publicly skeptical 
-------------------------------- 
 
10. (SBU) PM Yanukovych reacted to media inquiries about the 
proposed installations when visiting Chernihiv province 
February 22 by saying: "We are certainly in a difficult 
situation.  We are studying whether it poses a threat or, I 
would say, an inconvenience, to us.  After we study this 
issue, we will take a final decision and determine the 
country's position on this issue."  In Odesa on March 2, with 
regard to the discussions regarding the possible deployment 
of U.S. anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech 
Republic, the PM said "we have heard the 'compliments' 
between Russia and the United States, and and that was a 
vivid example of how not to go about doing things.  This is 
insecure."  The PM also told the press in Odesa that Ukraine 
wanted to get "as much information as possible" regarding the 
deployment, so the MDA team's visit is extremely timely. 
 
11. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev 
 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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