Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 112

In public comments on security issues, Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma publicly criticized the idea of unification of the {East} Slavic states in general and of Russia-Belarus unification in particular. Kuchma targeted the resolution of Russia’s Federation Council earlier this month to hold a referendum in Russia on the issue of close integration of the Russian Federation and Belarus. Kuchma urged the two countries to confine themselves to "normal cooperation" such as that provided for by their customs union. In the same remarks Kuchma also expressed concern that the negotiations with Russia on the Black Sea Fleet "virtually don´t work." He disclosed that he has sent Boris Yeltsin a letter asking him to accelerate the direct negotiations, "rather than communicate through the mass media." In the same context, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s policy planning chief Ihor Kharchenko said that while Ukraine does not plan to join NATO, "it is interested in the closest cooperation with it" and seeks participation in "all of the alliance’s programs that are accessible to Ukraine." He said that Kiev will ask for closer relations with NATO in the talks with the alliance’s delegation led by its deputy secretary general Gebhardt von Moltke, arriving in Kiev today. (13)

Kuchma’s unusual remarks about Russia-Belarus unification stem from the concern that such a move would leapfrog Ukraine strategically and come close to encirclement, if seen in conjunction with Russia´s military presence in Crimea and Transdniester. Significantly, Kuchma’s and Kharchenko’s remarks came in the context of that day’s talks with the German delegation in Kiev (see below).

Toward Ukrainian-German "Special Relations"?