Russian Nationalism Draws Ukraine, U.S. Closer

By Sieff, Martin | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 24, 1996 | Go to article overview

Russian Nationalism Draws Ukraine, U.S. Closer


Sieff, Martin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Three years ago Ukraine was in the doghouse with Washington policy-makers, regarded by U.S. officials as the unwanted stepchild of the collapse of the Soviet Union. But that was before Russian nationalism began its revival.

When President Leonid Kuchma visited Washington this week, President Clinton rolled out the red carpet.

The Ukrainian leader met with the president, Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Administration spokesmen discussed the importance of Ukraine and the strength of ties between the nations.

"This is a very close relationship. It's very deep, and it's very broad, and it extends to extremely close relations on economic issues, a new and burgeoning military relationship," said State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, an expert on the former Soviet republics.

Ukraine, which became independent at the beginning of 1992 after 347 years under Moscow's control, is now the No. 4 recipient of combined military and economic assistance from the United States, after Israel, Egypt and Russia, Mr. Burns said.

In terms of economic aid alone, it is the third-largest recipient, having surpassed Russia this year.

Of all the former Soviet republics in the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States, Ukraine was the first to declare itself for NATO's Partnership for Peace program, Mr. Burns said.

Ukrainian troops are serving in the French sector with the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"We find that in every respect Ukraine is really an ideal partner in Central Europe," Mr. Burns said.

Senior U.S. officials say the importance given by U.S. leaders to Ukraine, which is the size of France and has 53 million people, is no surprise development this year.

They date the turnaround in U. …

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