Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ukraine's President Kravchuk Cements Relations with US

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ukraine's President Kravchuk Cements Relations with US

Article excerpt

THIS week's US Department of Commerce conference on American-Ukrainian investment and trade opportunities reflects the speed with which bilateral relations are progressing.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk - former communist, now a nationalist - frequently refers to Ukraine as a European country and himself as an internationalist. The leader of the second-largest former Soviet republic is particularly proud of his nation's developing ties with the United States.

During a recent visit to Washington, he boosted Ukraine's status with the US on two fronts: military and economic.

He assured President Bush of the removal of all nuclear weapons from Ukraine and pledged to sign the non-proliferation treaty and to carry out Ukraine's portion of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) which was negotiated with the now-defunct Soviet Union.

Satisfied with Ukraine's cooperation on the nuclear issues, the Bush administration committed $10 million toward the Ukraine Science and Technology Center established for local weapons scientists and engineers to redirect their efforts to civilian pursuits.

President Bush signed an Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement providing US government investment insurance, project financing, and other incentives to US investors in Ukraine. He also announced $110 million in food credits for Ukraine and promised most-favored-nation status for that nation.

Mr. Kravchuk's optimism about relations with the West is in obvious contrast to his pessimism concerning Ukraine's future in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Back home after the high-profile visit to Washington, Kravchuk spurned an invitation to a May 15 CIS summit in Uzbekistan, further undermining cooperative efforts among the successor states of the ex-Soviet Union. The dissolution of the old Communist empire unleashed a bitter historical rivalry between Ukraine and Russia. Exacerbating tensions is Russian President Boris Yeltsin's refusal to cede to Kravchuk's request to use the CIS summits to divide Soviet property, embassies and other assets once commonly shared by all republics.

The six-month-old Ukrainian government is wary of Russian domination in the post Soviet scenario and anxious to make its mark as a strong sovereign state. …

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