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Media availability with Secretary Cohen and Minister of Defense Kuzmuk, Ukraine

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
August 03, 1999

Media availability with Minister of Defense Alexander Kuzmuk, Crimea, Ukraine

Q: What are the main difficult points about the Ukrainian participation to KFOR under discussion?

Kuzmuk: Any participation in such important operations like the participation in a peace operation. This is a very difficult mission. This is the entire training of troops; there are preparations of the legal basis for participation. This is the deployment of forces, and then delivery of the forces, in the end, their participation in the international operations. All assets and provisions for their participation in Kosovo are resolved already. First and foremost, we determine the composition of the Ukrainian contingent; the Ukrainian President took the decision, the Supreme Council approved the participation of all peacekeepers in the operation and we finished the training of them. Now we expect from NATO to send us more details about the missions which will be for Ukrainian contingent. And now, financial support is one of the most important components of this support, and we worked over this issue early, thank you.

Q: She's asking about the cost for participation in the operation and what will be the assistance of the United States side, what kind of assistance will we receive, will it be financial support or some other material support or some other type of support?

Kuzmuk: To answer the first part of the question pertaining to the cost of this operation, [Inaudible] it is already announced in the media widely and you can find the answer there. And concerning, the second part of the question, I can't address. My colleague, maybe he can clarify this for me.

Cohen: As we have indicated in the past, we intend to contribute to the peacekeeping effort on the part of Ukraine forces in kind, and we'll seek to get substantial contributions from other NATO members. We will also be sending one of our ships to provide escort for Ukraine's KFOR participation forces that will travel to Thessaloniki. But we believe that it's very important for Ukraine to contribute to the peacekeeping mission. President Kuchma provided great leadership in seeking mediation during the course of the conflict, and now, making a contribution to keeping the peace after the resolution of that conflict.

Could I indicate, before there's another question, an announcement that we are making today-that we are going to be, as I speak, exchanging a document which indicates that Ukraine and the United States have agreed to extend the Cooperative Threat Reduction program by an additional six years, to the year 2006. This is a very significant step because it represents that Ukraine is committed to following the great leadership it has shown in the past by reducing those weapons which have posed threats in the past and are now working very closely with the United States.

Could I also indicate that the relationship between the United States and Ukraine continues to expand and to be strengthened. We now have more that a hundred separate programs and contacts that we maintain every year, and that our programs now-we have contributed some 3.4 million dollars over the past three years to Ukraine in an effort to help in the reformation of its military system. And I should point out that that 3.4 million dollars was directed toward the improvements of the training facility and center at Yavoriv. We have actually contributed much more than that in the way of foreign military financing programs and other educational programs as well. So that 3.4 million just represents our contribution to the upgrading and modernization of the Yavoriv training center, which has now been designated as an official PfP training center.

Q: If the fact that we are going to give to Russia their DU-160 bombers is that against...will this interfere with our relations with the United States as well as the fact that we are going to exchange the SU-17 fighter or SU-25 fighter which is also capable to deliver nuclear weapons?

Kuzmuk: The first part of this question is for me. I would like to say that we're very surprised. I read in the media that we are going to exchange the bombers for our (inaudible). I would like to say that with our Russian counterparts, we conducted twenty-four hours of negotiations. This is starting from 1993. But the state of things did not change until this time. And what I read in the media, this might be some news of journalists on this issue. In studying our relationship, I don't think there are any obstacles in the way of expansion and developing. And I think this view is shared by my colleague. For the second part of the question, I would like to say that we already determine the goals on which this technology this was to be salved, and we worked over these issues. We are studying the exchange of SU-17 and SU-25 fighters. I would like to say that we didn't resolve this issue, and I hardly think that in Ukrainian Navy there were some thoughts to exchange this aircraft. SU-17 is a multi-purpose aircraft, and SU-25 is a tactical assault aircraft. These aircraft are completely different type and we don't plan to exchange them. Concerning the exchange of the SU-24 aircraft, concerning the military point of view it was this was trouble.

This question is now regarding by the combined Russian-Ukrainian teams. But you know our demands, the exchange of equipment is possible, but this SU-24 aircraft should be deprived of all their sites as a carrier of nuclear warheads.