U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright delivered in Kyiv on March 6 a "serious warning" regarding problems encountered by some U.S. firms in Ukraine. The warning had been anticipated since Albright announced, in recent congressional hearings, her intention to deliver it in Kyiv on behalf of both branches of the U.S. government. The U.S. Congress has recently decided to withhold the disbursement of one-half of the $225 million in aid to Ukraine for 1998, pending State Department certification that Kyiv has corrected those problems. More generally, Albright expressed disappointment over the slowdown of economic reforms in Ukraine. In a speech to the faculty and students of Kyiv’s Mohyla Academy and in a meeting with leaders of four nongovernmental parties, she openly voiced concern lest the upcoming elections bring leftist forces to power.
Albright and Ukrainian leaders agreed to expand bilateral cooperation on nonproliferation of nuclear and other mass-destruction weapons, on nuclear research for peaceful purposes and on space flights. In a joint statement, issued by Albright and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko, the sides undertook to hold regular consultations on these topics as well as on "regional security issues" — i.e. issues affecting Ukraine. Washington and Kyiv declared their common interest in Ukraine’s accession to the missile technology control regime, to be followed by increased U.S.-Ukraine cooperation in commercial space launches.
The United States offered technical assistance for Ukraine’s military reform, specifically on economic methods of decommissioning military bases and of managing remaining ones. The specifics are to be worked out in advance of the next session of the U.S.-Ukraine interstate cooperation commission ("Kuchma-Gore Commission"). (Ukrainian agencies, March 6-7)
The one-day "working visit" was Albright’s first to Ukraine as secretary of state. Although the visit featured the usual formulae about Ukraine’s key role in the new Europe, the agenda did not seem attuned to Ukraine’s upcoming parliamentary elections, whose outcome may determine whether Ukraine will be in a position to play that role in the years ahead.
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