Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 148

Defense Secretary William Cohen’s July 31 working visit to Ukraine lent fresh impetus to bilateral military cooperation while illustrating President Leonid Kuchma’s effort to steer a balanced course between Russia and the West during his reelection campaign. Kuchma, Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk and National Security and Defense Council Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin held informal, “no-necktie” talks with Cohen in the Crimea.

–Strategic Weapons Systems. The Ukrainian side agreed to Cohen’s offer of a six-year extension of the U.S.-Ukraine Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement. The original agreement was due to expire in 2000. Kyiv’s acceptance implies giving up the idea of delivering ten strategic bombers to Russia in the context of settling Ukraine’s debts for Russian gas. Kuzmuk, who had publicly broached that idea as recently as last week, disowned it at the concluding joint news conference with Cohen.

–Kosovo Peacekeeping. The U.S. side pledged assistance to the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent which is due to be deployed in Kosovo. Washington will help with the transportation by sea, contribute funds and supplies to the Ukrainian force and seek funding from other NATO countries for the same purpose. The contingent’s monthly expenses are estimated at US$1,250,000. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry plans to send–as part of the international peacekeeping force–a motor-rifle battalion, a helicopter squadron and two auxiliary units, some 800 soldiers in all. Kuzmuk declared after the talks with Cohen that Kyiv “now expects NATO to specify the Ukrainian contingent’s assignment”–a hint that the contingent would operate under some form of NATO control. The Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark, is due soon to arrive in Kyiv and settle the details with Kuzmuk.

–Other Programs. Cohen and Kuzmuk further agreed to expand an existing program to provide training in the United States for Ukrainian noncommissioned officers; initiate a program for English-language training to Ukrainian officers; upgrade the Yavoriv military range with U.S. and NATO funds, turning it into a NATO training center; and hold a U.S.-led computer war game at Yavoriv from August 5-15 in the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program (UNIAN, AP, Reuters, July 31, August 1).

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