MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is to replace Ukrainian-made engines in its cruise missiles with local ones, an arms producer said on Monday.
Moscow’s statement was the second signal in as many days of Russia’s fierce opposition to its neighbour’s entry into NATO, and came as NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was visiting Ukraine.
On Saturday, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Ukraine would lose industry ties with Russia and suffer reduced trade cooperation if it joined NATO.
On Monday, Yevgeny Kablov, director general of the All-Russian Aviation Materials Research Institute, said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had ordered officials to revise some ties with Ukraine.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich has set a task of replacing engines in cruise missiles to end dependence on Ukraine,” he told visiting government officials and journalists.
He gave no further details. Kablov’s institute is involved in designing alloys for aviation and space engines.
Ukraine, which built the formidable SS-18 nuclear missile — codenamed “Satan” by NATO — in Soviet days, now supplies engines for Russian X-35, X-55 and X-59 cruise missiles produced at its aviation and helicopter engine maker Motor-Sich.
Motor-Sich is a major foreign economic partner for Russia’s aviation materials institute. Earlier this year it said it planned to open a cruise missile engine venture in Russia.
NATO has given Ukraine an undertaking that it can eventually join the alliance, but has given no firm timetable.
Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Janet Lawrence