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Russia denies talks on purchase of missile cruiser from Ukraine

Russia denies talks on purchase of missile cruiser from Ukraine 22.10.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

Russia is currently not involved in talks with Ukraine over the purchase of an unfinished missile cruiser for the Russian Navy, Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian government ordered Ukrspetsexport, the state-owned arms trader, to look for potential buyers of the Slava-class Ukraina missile cruiser back in 2005. Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov mentioned the potential purchase of the vessel by Russia in June this year.

"Rosoboronexport has no instructions to buy the cruiser [from Ukraine], although I cannot deny that we were interested in this ship," said Ivan Goncharenko, Rosoboronexport's first deputy general director.

He added that to hold talks on the potential purchase of the cruiser Rosoboronexport must receive relevant instructions and sufficient funds.

Construction of the Slava-class Admiral Lobov cruiser (Project 1164) was launched in 1984 at the Nikolayev shipyard in Ukraine but stalled at the final stage, when it was more than 90 % ready, in late 1980s due to a sharp reduction in military expenditures.

The cruiser was renamed the Ukraina in 1992. The government of Ukraine initially planned to complete construction of the cruiser for its own Navy but later decided it would not fit the country's naval strategy.

In June 2002, Anatoly Kinakh, Ukraine's prime minister at the time, and Russia's ambassador to Ukraine, Viktor Chernomyrdin, discussed an acceptable agreement on the missile cruiser, as a Russian-Ukrainian agreement of 1993 stipulated that both parties should make joint decisions on military facilities and equipment that had not been completed in the Soviet era.

The Ukrainian defense ministry was instructed in 2005 to take the Ukraina and pay for its maintenance.

The cruiser is 96 % ready but has passed no sea trials yet and has not been fitted with missile systems. About $30 million is needed to complete its construction.

Slava-class cruisers were designed as surface strike ships with some anti-aircraft and ASW capability. They carry 16 SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missiles, with launches mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure.

In addition, the cruiser is reportedly armed with 64 SA-N-6 Grumble long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and 40 SA-N-4 Gecko short-range SAMs.

NATO experts had dubbed Russian combat ships of this class "the killer of aircraft carriers," as they can launch 1,000kg of high-explosives, or a tactical nuclear warhead, out to a range of 300 nautical miles.

Russia has three Slava-class cruisers in service with its Navy.

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