Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 184

At a meeting in Kyiv on September 28-29 under the motto "Russia and Ukraine on the Way to Strategic Partnership," senior officials and public figures of the two countries agreed to set up a Russian-Ukrainian Consultative Council. On the Russia side its founders include CIS Cooperation minister Anatoly Adamishin, presidential foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko, and the head of the Presidential Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Sergey Karaganov. Ukrainian founders include Defense and Security Council head Volodymyr Horbulin, his deputy, Oleksandr Razumkov, and Deputy Prime Minister Serhy Tyhypko.

The Consultative Council is meant to provide up-to-date analyses of bilateral relations for the use of the two presidents and governments, as well as to supply recommendations for resolving political, economic, and socio-cultural problems. The council is to hold annual meetings alternately in Russia and Ukraine. Founding members said they felt such "informal" meetings can overcome difficulties that are not being resolved at the official level. The participants appealed to Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma for support and were received by Kuchma. The Ukrainian president spoke of a "new qualitative stage" in bilateral relations, which he felt had been opened by the signing of the Yeltsin-Kuchma interstate treaty in May. More cautiously, Razumkov noted the contrast between improvements in the political climate and a deterioration in economic relations.

The inaugural meeting in Kyiv focused on the possibilities of opening reciprocal access to national markets and agreed to set up a joint working group for drafting a long-term economic cooperation plan. The time frame for such a program is being variously cited as through 2000, 2002, or 2007. Prime ministers Viktor Chernomyrdin and Valery Pustovoytenko had agreed in Moscow last month to draft a 10-year plan for signing by the presidents next January.

Speaking before reporters in the Kremlin, Yeltsin issued an impromptu invitation to Kuchma to "spend some time informally together on a Saturday or a Sunday, on an outing somewhere," in order to review relations prior to the summit which is planned for January. Russian-Ukrainian relations have recently been placed "on an even keel," Yeltsin said. (UNIAN, DINAU, Russian agencies, September 29-30, October 1)

Kyiv’s initiative, apparently spearheaded by Razumkov, pursues not only detente with Moscow — which Kuchma has sought all along — but also anticipates its political effect in eastern Ukraine, as the presidential team prepares for upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The dominant presence of Ukrainian presidential officials on the council also suggests an effort to deprive Kuchma’s leftist opponents of their Russian card. Yeltsin’s approval of this initiative and his invitation to Kuchma may be taken as an early indication that Moscow is willing to support the party of power in Ukraine and the president personally, though undoubtedly for a political price which is yet to be set.

Ukraine Seeks Closer Ties with NATO.