The Kremlin’s foreign policy coordinator Sergei Yastrzhembsky and Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council Aleksandr Razumkov conferred yesterday in Moscow about organizing another "no-necktie" meeting between Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma. They announced that they have tentatively scheduled and planned the agenda for such a meeting for June in the Crimea. They also paid public tribute to the two presidents’ personal role in promoting Russian-Ukrainian cooperation. Yastrzhembsky further stated that Moscow was satisfied that Ukraine does not seek to join NATO. (Russian agencies, March 25) Yastrzhembsky and Razumkov co-chair the grandly named, but not conspicuously effective, Russian-Ukrainian Strategic Cooperation Group, which is made up of top officials on both sides.
The meeting and the announcement appear designed to help the pro-presidential parties in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections on March 29. This has been the underlying purpose of the series of Yeltsin-Kuchma meetings since last November. They suggest to the massive russified and leftist electorate in Ukraine that Kuchma — and implicitly the parties supporting him — can be relied upon to cooperate with Russia. This message is calculated to prevent Ukraine’s leftist parties from playing the Russian card in the eastern and southern regions. Moscow has had serious difficulties with Kuchma, but a Red victory in the Ukrainian elections probably worries the Kremlin even more, because such a development would boost Russia’s own leftist opposition.
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