Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 142

Vice-President Albert Gore visited Ukraine on July 22-23 to co-chair a session of the U.S.-Ukrainian interstate commission (Gore-Kuchma commission), with three issues dominating the agenda.

— Ukrainian Reforms. Persuading governing circles in Kyiv to enact economic reforms, in order to qualify for International Monetary Fund loans, was one of Gore’s top priorities on this visit. Its timing, however, was not propitious, coinciding as it did with a leftist takeover of the Ukrainian parliament’s leadership.

— Caspian Oil Transit. Kuchma expressed the hope that the United States will support Ukraine’s offer to provide an economic and safe transit route for Caspian oil to Europe. Washington’s political support for this strategic issue is crucial, Kuchma reportedly stressed. (Background in the Monitor, May 26-27 and June 10)

–Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Gore renewed what have become perennial Western promises to fund the Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP)–that is, the reconstruction of the crumbling sarcophagus hastily built around reactor no. 4 following the 1986 disaster. The SIP is estimated to cost US$760 million, of which only US$390 million have been pledged, and only approximately US$200 million have actually been received by the Shelter Fund. In addition, Ukraine needs US$1.2 billion to complete two power blocks, one at the Rivne and one at the Khmelnitskaya nuclear power plant, to compensate for losing the generating capacity at Chornobyl. In their talks with Gore, the Ukrainian leaders reaffirmed that their intention to close down Chornobyl in the year 2000 remains contingent on receipt of that funding from the G-7 and the European Union countries. Gore agreed with a Ukrainian proposal to call shortly an international conference of private sector donors. (UNIAN, DINAU, Eastern Economist Daily [Kyiv], July 22-24)