Rumsfeld To Ukrainians: WMD Threat Is Real
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
KIEV, Ukraine, Jun. 6, 2001 A post-Cold War defense structure is needed by peaceful nations to safeguard against the threat presented by weapons of mass destruction, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Ukrainian defense officials here June 5.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Ukrainian Defense Minister Gen. of the Army Oleksandr Kuzmuk review troops in a ceremony outside the Defense Ministry in Kiev, Ukraine. Rumsfeld visited June 5, 2001, to discuss sign an agreement continuing U.S.-Ukrainian cooperation in defense matters. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"There is no question in our minds that the threat is real and that the threat is growing," he said. "It is appropriate for nations that are concerned about that threat to move forward with respect to ballistic missile defense."
After visiting U.S. troops June 4 at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Rumsfeld flew here to meet with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Yevhen Marchuk, Minister of Defense Gen. of the Army Oleksandr Kuzmuk, and other senior officials.
Rumsfeld signed a protocol agreement at the Defense Ministry June 5 that maintains ongoing U.S.-Ukraine cooperation in defense issues, including the reorganization of Ukraine's military.
During a press conference following the signing ceremony, Rumsfeld remarked that nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction -- and the means of delivering them -- have proliferated throughout the world since the Cold War ended.
Many observers see the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as a roadblock to U.S. and allied missile defense efforts. Kuzmuk said modifying or terminating the ABM treaty is a matter between the United States and Russia. Yet, he seemed to agree with Rumsfeld's logic when he said, "ABM was a system of the '70s and is not right for the challenges of today."
Iraq and North Korea, Rumsfeld remarked, are two examples of nondemocratic, often-bellicose nations of concern that have WMD capability.
He said democratic governments offer their citizens opportunity and prosperity, are inherently peaceful and rarely war with one another. He cited the Bush administration's interest and support for Ukraine's political and economic progress.
"A stable and prosperous Ukraine oriented to the West, … is important to Ukraine, is important to the United States, and is important to the West," he said. "There is no book written (that blueprints) exactly how a country moves from communism to free political and free economic institutions.
"(Democracy) can be a difficult path. We understand," Rumsfeld noted. He said he was "impressed with the very solid commitment" and determination displayed by Ukrainian authorities to proceed toward democracy.
Kuzmuk reaffirmed that Ukraine is aligned with NATO and the West and plans to stay that course.
Rumsfeld also remarked on Ukraine's "distinctive partnership with NATO." Ukrainian troops, he said, are serving on peacekeeping duty along with U.S. soldiers and other countries' forces in Kosovo.