Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma told the country in a televised interview yesterday that Russian "pressures" on Ukraine are "pushing the country toward NATO." While reaffirming that Ukraine’s "non-bloc status" is optimal and suitable to both NATO and Russia at this stage, Kuchma stressed that Ukraine’s independence is irreversible "whether Ukraine will be in NATO or not." Elaborating on Kuchma’s statement, National Defense and Security Council chief Volodymyr Horbulin stated that "certain actions and statements by Russia’s Duma and members of the Russian government force Ukraine to seek to protect its security in a security system." (Interfax-Ukraine, March 17)
Those statements follow last week’s session in Tysovets of the military component of the U.S.-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission (Gore-Kuchma commission). U.S.-Ukrainian military cooperation activities — planned on a bilateral basis and within NATO’s Partnership for Peace — were discussed at that meeting. This week NATO and Ukraine are set to begin negotiations on a draft agreement for a special partnership.
Shevardnadze Angered by Moscow’s Partiality in Abkhazia.