Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 138

The Ukrainian parliament yesterday declined to vote on a set of anti-NATO bills submitted by Communist and other leftist deputies. The bills would have prohibited the holding in Ukraine of military exercises sponsored by NATO or conducted by units of NATO member countries with Ukrainian units. An alternative bill submitted by parliament chairman Oleksandr Moroz, which also failed, would have required parliamentary approval of the upcoming U.S.-Ukrainian Sea Breeze-97 exercise. Communist party leader Petro Simonenko and others proposed impeachment proceedings against President Leonid Kuchma for having signed the NATO-Ukraine partnership charter.

Ukraine’s foreign and defense ministers, Hennady Udovenko and Oleksandr Kuzmuk, lobbied against the bills. Udovenko stated that Ukraine’s neutrality did not preclude partnership relations with NATO; and Kuzmuk defused the leftists’ financial argument by pointing out that NATO and the U.S. were covering the expenses of all exercises. Kyiv Communists picketed the parliament building under anti-Western slogans during the debate inside. On the same day, President Leonid Kuchma told military academy graduates that "the expanding cooperation with NATO significantly strengthens Ukraine’s security." (Russian agencies, Ukrinform, July 15-16)

The outcome in parliament again suggests that leftists had exaggerated their strength in claiming that nearly 200 deputies had joined the "Ukraine Outside NATO" association. The policy of the executive branch has made Ukraine the region’s leader in terms of hosting joint military exercises with NATO countries.

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