Kravchuk seeks to allay fears on Start 1 delay

Click to follow
The Independent Online
UKRAINE'S President, Leonid Kravchuk, sought to reassure the British Government yesterday that his republic would not block progress on international nuclear disarmament.

Mr Kravchuk, who is the first leader of an independent Ukrainian state to visit Britain, held talks with John Major at 10 Downing Street at which they discussed Ukraine's delay in ratifying a United States-Soviet agreement in 1991 to reduce strategic nuclear arms. Ukraine, which, like Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, found itself in possession of nuclear arms after the Soviet Union's collapse, is the only former Soviet republic not to have ratified the Start 1 treaty.

Before Mr Kravchuk arrived in London on Tuesday, Mr Major made clear that Britain saw a link between the nuclear arms issue and Ukraine's desire for full international acceptance. 'It is fully in the interests of Ukraine to carry out its obligations as quickly as possible in ratifying the Start 1 treaty. Through this, you can be sure that the process of Ukraine's integration into the world community will be speeded up,' the Prime Minister was quoted as saying in the Ukrainian newspaper Holos Ukrainy.

Although Ukraine says it has no intention of remaining a nuclear power, it is holding out for Western security guarantees on the grounds that it cannot fully trust Russian intentions. Ukraine will have to hand over 176 missiles to Russia under the Start 1 treaty, and the Kiev government wants assurances that these weapons or others will not be turned against Ukrainian targets.

Mr Kravchuk is having talks today with Jacques Attali, the head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with whom he will discuss the terms of aid for Ukraine's ailing economy. He is also to meet representatives of the Confederation of British Industry in London.

(Photograph omitted)