Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 163

Returning from a three-day visit to Kiev, Georgian foreign minister Irakli Menagarishvili told a Tbilisi briefing that he had proposed the deployment of Ukrainian peacekeepers in Abkhazia. He said Ukraine is prepared to send ceasefire monitors to Abkhazia, and would also send peacekeeping troops if authorized by the UN Security Council.

The Georgian delegation to Kiev included the land forces commander, Maj. Gen. Guzhar Kurashvili, and the border troops’ commander, Maj. Gen. Valery Chkheidze. The two conferred with Ukrainian defense minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk on possible "Ukrainian assistance to the creation of Georgia’s armed forces." Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma and foreign minister Hennady Udovenko agreed to support Georgia’s claim to some Black Sea Fleet ships necessary for guarding Georgia’s coast.

Menagarishvili and his Ukrainian hosts also agreed on their opposition to the creation of supranational bodies in the CIS. They further discussed Ukraine’s participation in the proposed Transcaucasus Transport Corridor which is intended to link Central Asia and the Caspian region with Europe on the shortest route via the Transcaucasus and the Black Sea. While Menagarishvili’s briefing provided the most comprehensive account of the Kiev talks, Ukrainian officials confirmed most of his points. (Iprinda, UNIAN, Interfax-Ukraine, August 31 through September 3)

Ukraine’s performance in international peacekeeping operations in former Yugoslavia has demonstrated that the country is qualified to perform such missions elsewhere as well, including the ex-Soviet space where Russia still exercises a virtual monopoly in peacekeeping operations. Tbilisi, exasperated by Russian policy in Abkhazia, has refused to renew the Russian peacekeepers’ mandate there and warns — as President Shevardnadze did again on radio on September 2 — that it may terminate that mandate. However Tbilisi is likely to prefer that Ukraine supplement, rather than replace, Russian troops.

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