Kiev Hopes to Repair U.S. Breach

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Kiev Hopes to Repair U.S. Breach


Byline: David R. Sands, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Ukraine's relations with the United States are on the upswing after a period of tension over the Slavic country's human rights record and its suspected ties to the regime of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the chairman of Ukraine's parliament said in an interview.

Volodymyr Lytvyn, a former top aide to President Leonid Kuchma and now leader of the pro-presidential party in the country's legislature, also dismissed fears that a much-criticized economic pact signed with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan Sept. 19 in Yalta signaled an about-face in Ukraine's drive for political and economic integration with Europe and the West.

The accord, which was criticized by European Union officials and by new U.S. Ambassador to Kiev John Herbst, is "supplementary to our main course, which remains European integration," Mr. Lytvyn said in an interview with The Washington Times during a visit to Washington this week.

"There are tactical steps one sometimes takes to realize strategic goals," he added.

Tacking between Moscow and the West has been a consistent feature of Ukrainian foreign policy, and Mr. Lytvyn acknowledged there was growing frustration in his country over the slow pace of talks with the European Union over closer relations.

"The art of sitting on the fence is something Kiev diplomats have mastered to perfection," Ukrainian political analyst Ivan Khokhotva said.

Mr. Lytvyn is the most senior Ukrainian official to visit Washington since Ukraine dispatched nearly 1,800 troops to southern Iraq as part of the U.S.-led peacekeeping mission. Ukraine's is the fourth-largest troop contingent in Iraq, excluding the United States, after Britain, Italy and Poland. …

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