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U.S.-Ukraine Cooperation Grows

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 1997 – The United States and Ukraine signed three agreements May 1, one aimed at further eliminating Ukraine's nuclear arms and two establishing military medical cooperation.

U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Ukrainian Defense Minister Gen. Col. Oleksander Kuzmuk signed an amendment to the Strategic Nuclear Arms Elimination Agreement that gives Ukraine another $47 million to continue destroying nuclear weapon systems. The United States has already provided about $400 million to Ukraine under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

"The United States and Ukraine worked very closely together, and our cooperation has helped lead to the speedy removal of Ukraine's nuclear weapons," Cohen said at the Pentagon signing ceremony.

After the break-up of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine held the world's third largest nuclear arsenal. In 1993, Ukraine's leaders chose to abolish that arsenal of about 2,000 warheads and delivery systems.

"Ukraine made a very bold and progressive choice," Cohen said. "The people of Ukraine recognize that security comes from constructive alliances and not from nuclear weapons."

Ukraine did what the entire world "was expecting and wanted -- removed the warheads from its missiles," Kuzmuk said at the ceremony. Ukraine also removed all strategic equipment from its 50 long-range TU-160 and TU-95 bombers, similar to America's B-1 and B-52 bombers, he said. Ukrainian officials now wish to work with the United States as "a force for the betterment for the future of the world," Kuzmuk said.

During a three-day visit to the United States, the Ukrainian defense leader met with U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. He said he valued having this chance to talk with average Americans. "The impressions of America that were formed during the 70 years of our Soviet history are gone with the wind right now, and we wish to cooperate with the United States," Kuzmuk said.

The defense leaders signed a reciprocal health care agreement to provide military health care for Ukrainian service members and their families stationed in the United States for more than 30 days for training. Some noncommissioned officers and other military personnel are now training in the United States to help them with military reform plans, DoD officials said.

They also signed a statement of intent that calls for DoD and the Ukrainian Health Affairs Agency to examine opportunities for military medical cooperation in the future.

Kuzmuk invited Cohen to Ukraine this summer to see U.S. and Ukrainian troops participating in Partnership for Peace exercise Cooperative Neighbor. Cohen accepted, Kuzmuk said, adding, "When he comes, he will be able to see ... with his own eyes what Ukrainian and American soldiers together are creating."

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