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Kyiv demurs at inclusion in coalition

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April 3, 2003, 4:44 a.m. |
A week after George W. Bush names Ukraine among members of the anti-Iraq coalition, diplomats claim they never asked for the country to be included on the list us in the coalition is in doubt.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Markian Lubkivsky declared on April 1 that Ukraine never asked the United States to consider it as a member of the anti‑Iraqi coalition.

“Ukraine is exclusively in favor of resolving any crisis situation by peaceful means,” Lubkivsky said, describing the decision to send an anti‑chemical warfare battalion to Kuwait as a “humanitarian” mission.

U.S. embassy spokesperson Patricia Guy told the Post on April 2 that officials at the Presidential Administration in Kyiv and Ukraine’s embassy in Washington told U.S. diplomats that they were willing for Ukraine to be identified as a coalition member on March 25, the day before Bush made his speech.

Guy said Ukrainian officials should contact U.S. diplomats in Kyiv or Washington if they believe they were misunderstood.

During his March 26 speech in Tampa, Florida, Bush praised coalition countries, including Ukraine, for contributing to the U.S.‑led war effort.

“Coalition forces are skilled and courageous, and we are honored to have them by our side,” Bush said.

A White House press released on March 27 listed Ukraine among 48 coalition members.

The public inclusion of Ukraine in the coalition angered Communist leader Petro Symonenko and Heorhy Kryuchkov, chairman of the parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee. They have announced that they will submit a bill in parliament on April 3 to annul the March 20 decision allowing deployment of the 532‑man chemical protection battalion to Kuwait.

Kryuchkov told Interfax‑Ukraine on March 31 that Bush’s speech and recent comments attributed to U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual have changed the status of the battalion.

“They threaten the national interests of Ukraine, the lives of the servicemen, and the people of Ukraine,” Kryuchkov said.

Pascual told reporters on March 29 that the Bush administration regards Ukraine as supportive of the war.

“We talked with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Administration and were pleased that they were willing to say that they consider the [hazardous chemicals clean‑up] unit as a contribution to coalition efforts,” he said.

Ibrahim Hisham, a representative of Iraq’s embassy in Ukraine, said that stationing the Ukrainian unit in Kuwait would not have an adverse impact on the development of bilateral relations.

“This issue does not influence our relationship,” Hisham said. In an interview aired on Ukraine’s UT‑1 television network, Hisham said that he worried about the safety of the Ukrainian troops.

“Sandstorms are very dangerous for people’s health and lives. So we are watching out for our Ukrainian friends who are currently in Kuwait and we are concerned about them,” he said.
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