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    Russia's Putin approves extending service life for ICBMs

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    President Vladimir Putin ratified a Russian-Ukrainian agreement to extend the service life of RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Kremlin press office said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, February 12 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin ratified a Russian-Ukrainian agreement to extend the service life of RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Kremlin press office said on Tuesday.

    The lower and upper houses of parliament passed the draft law on the missile on January 25 and January 30 respectively.

    The agreement was coordinated during a visit by the Ukrainian defense minister to Moscow in 2006 and established that Ukraine would assist Russia in maintaining systems that have been on combat duty for the past 15 years for a further 10-15 years.

    With this agreement in force, Russia will not need to decommission the existing missiles and manufacture more new Topol-M systems, which would increase the defense budget by $3-4 billion.

    Along with this agreement the Russian president signed a bill to cancel an agreement with Ukraine on an early warning missile and space monitoring system, which was also passed by the State Duma on January 25 and approved by the Federation Council on January 30.

    Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement on leasing the Mukachevo and Sevastopol early warning stations to Russia in February 1997. The document stipulated that Russia would cover all operating costs, totaling $4 million per year, while Ukraine would be responsible for the maintenance of the facilities.

    Under the agreement, Russia will end its obligations 12 months after officially notifying Ukraine.

    Several years ago, Russia launched a program for the development of Russian Space Forces, which included building and using early warning radars on its own territory.

    Russia currently leases ground-based radar stations in Sevastopol and Mukachevo in Ukraine; in Baranovichi, Belarus; Balkhash in Kazakhstan; and Gabala in Azerbaijan. It also has radars on its own territory in Murmansk (Arctic northwest), Pechora (northwest Urals), and Irkutsk (East Siberia).

    Russia's Space Forces Commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin said earlier that a new Voronezh-type radar in Lekhtusi, Leningrad Region, would go into operation later this year.

    Another Voronezh-type radar is being built in Armavir in southwest Russia and is expected to be put into service in 2009.

    With an effective range of 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) the Voronezh-type radar has capabilities similar to its predecessors, the Dnepr and Daryal, which are currently deployed outside Russia, but is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

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