A Ukrainian military delegation headed by Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk today completes a week-long visit to the U.S., during which it was shown army, air force, naval, and marine bases, modern military hardware, and special-force exercises. U.S. defense secretary William Cohen accepted an invitation to visit Ukraine and to watch the upcoming U.S.-Ukrainian-Polish military exercise at Yavoriv. Kuzmuk told the concluding briefing that the U.S. and Ukraine are now "a force for betterment in the world." He also replied "nothing is permanent" when asked whether Ukraine will remain neutral rather than seek to join NATO.
Cohen and Kuzmuk signed an agreement providing an additional $47 million to Ukraine toward the cost of dismantling SS-19 and SS-24 strategic missiles inherited from the USSR. Ukraine has completed the removal of nuclear warheads from those missiles and received $404 million in assistance under the Nunn-Lugar program. (UNIAN, Western agencies, April 30-May 2)
At the Washington press conference yesterday Kuzmuk also indicated that Russia is no longer interested in purchasing any of the 44 ex-Soviet strategic bombers inherited by Ukraine when the Soviet Union broke up. The Russians had not responded to Ukrainian proposals, he said, "and I really doubt that we will get an answer. Kuzmuk said that Ukraine does not intend to modernize the 19 Tu-160 supersonic bombers and 25 Tu-95MS missile carriers. (DoD press release, May 1)
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